bowie tube 30 x40 sepia _ JM Art Management.jpg

Kate Garner:

scroll

Seeker, Sage, and Preservationist of Identity

A thoughtful selection of Kate Garner’s most pivotal work, showing the arc of identity, and her expression as one of the great masters of fine art photography today. In this collection of works, see rare and seldom viewed images of Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, David Bowie, FKA Twigs, and more.

View works on ARTSY

“I didn’t go to Art School. I went to college to study pots and pans,” says renowned fine artist Kate Garner. But from pots and pans, Kate found a much more steely resolve. What began as a practical analysis of inanimate subjects developed into a career forged in deeper discovery; Preservation of those made of sinew. Today, her artistry marries together the talents of scientist, spiritualist, composer, and sage. Kate is more than a photographer. Through Kate Garner’s lens, she preserves her subjects in their most real, raw, and vulnerable expressions of identity and is one of the great magicians in fine art photography today.

Humble Beginnings

Kate Garner evolved in the edgy pop-punk heyday of 1980’s London. By the time she was in her early 20s, she was well on her way to becoming one of the most enigmatic fine art photographers of our time. But it didn’t start that way. Until Kate was 19, she had spent most of her time in a tough mining town in the north of England. It was a practical place with practical people that studied practical vocations and couldn't afford to let themselves dream too much.

Growing up, Kate had expected a similar existence, but it was never what she had envisioned. Like much of her class, she attended formal trade education at the local vocational college after graduating secondary school and spending a year hitch-hiking from England, through Europe, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan to India Garner came back from India and started to study commercial photography, and in Northern England, that meant--pots and pans. But, Kate knew she was different and would often take herself down into the thriving metropolis of London to see and experience the vibrant Mecca of arts and creatives.

The Blitz Kids & London Early Days

Her creative path took a pivotal point when her wanderings introduced her to the Blitz Kids. The art students and teenage squatters took her in, and It wasn’t long before she began shooting the streets with London’s party scene artisans and gender-bending pioneers. Working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones, Boy George, and later even David Bowie--Kate became fully immersed in the New Romantic era, alongside some of the most relevant artists of the time The group of vagabonds and visionaries became a creative powerhouse and Kate then started a band, Haysi Fantayzee, with two of the vagabonds, Jeremy Healy and Paul Caplin. Their first album went gold.

bowie tube 30 x40 sepia _ JM Art Management.jpg

Bowie Tube. Sepia, 1995

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

40 × 30 in

101.6 × 76.2 cm

Edition of 20

“Even though Bowie had been part of that earlier New-Romantics era, these images were actually taken much later in 1995. That day I was shooting for 2 magazines, Raygun in LA and Esquire in London. I wasn’t a deep fan of Bowie’s before that day. I preferred the rawness of Iggy Pop, But I WAS a fan at the end of the day! He had bothered to find out about me, a rarity. He knew about the band I was in in the 80s and sang the songs to me at lunchtime. At 48 he was devastatingly beautiful. He let me hang him from ropes from the ceiling, wrap him in bandages, and put him inside a giant tunnel.”

The London club kids and their installations soon picked up buzz, opening the doors to Kate Garner’s first published work in British magazines, i-D, and The Face. Soon she began shooting collections and would-be celebrities. One of the most pivotal moments of Kate’s career occurred when a waify ash-blonde walked in sporting her boyfriend’s undies, a vest, and a slim cigarette between her lips. Recently roused from what was invariably a late-night about town, this fellow Kate (and soon-to-be mega-star supermodel) graced the lens of the up-and-coming Ms. Garner.

kate Moss 7 Bronze & Green 40 x56 _ JM Art Management.jpg

Kate Moss 7. Bronze & Green, 1990

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

56 × 40 in

142.2 × 101.6 cm

kate moss gold & bronze boyfriends underpants40x50 _ JM Art Management.jpg

Boyfriends Underpants, 1990

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

50 × 40 in

127 × 101.6 cm

Edition of 20

“What was it like working with Kate Moss? Even at that young age, she was an instinctive, intelligent artist,” praises Kate Garner. That shoot, in particular, was at the very beginning of both Kate’s careers. For Moss, she had primarily been portrayed as the grunge girl opposite the big supermodels of the time. She was still relatively unknown; But Kate Garner saw much more, which was made evident to the world with her iconic teddy bear shoot captured that day.

“During the shoot, I had Kate start playing with some of the toys in the studio leftover from the day before. She picked up the teddy bear and slipped into a pair of Vivienne Westwood heels that were much too big for her. She was fabulous all around, but these outtakes became the most interesting (and iconic) from the shoot.”

The Golden Age of LALA Land

Word of Kate Garner’s London success spread fast, and the British photographer began to gain traction in other cities. LA was hot on the line; her book of real, raw, original images heralding Kate as a great urban photographer and summoning her across the seas. She immediately started work with several subjects from urban music and culture. Some of the most iconic captures are Eazy E, Dr. Dre, and Tone Loc. At the same time, she was shooting for English magazines like the Face and i-D, black and white portraits of LA's Samoan community, identity artist JT Leroy, and ongoing fashion shoots. 'The light in LA blew my mind." says Kate. Deep hard shadows mixed with soft golden southern sunlight.

Little Cool 1 30 x 30  _ JM Art Management.jpg

Little Cool 1, 1994

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

30 × 30 in

76.2 × 76.2 cm

Edition of 20

Little Cool 2 30 x 30 _ JM Art Management.jpg

Little Cool 2, 1994

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

30 × 30 in

76.2 × 76.2 cm

Edition of 20

As Kate developed the framework of her professional career, she was already developing a strong sense of purpose in her role as the great synthesizer and recorder of identity. “There’s just something moving and beautiful in the identity of a creature,” says Garner. This ethos is evident even in her earliest work as a foreshadowing of her life’s theme and purpose.

Shortly after landing in LA, Kate quickly escalated from urban artistry. Calls from Vogue and Elle magazines started pouring in. Once again, Kate Garner found herself working with the brightest up and coming talents--this time in Hollywood. Few can say they have created many of the most famous names and faces in entertainment, even at the height of their career. Kate has worked with a litany: Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich--to name a few.

angelina red bound 40 x 56 _ JM Art Management.jpg

Angelina. Red Bound., 1995

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

56 × 40 in

142.2 × 101.6 cm

“I was photographing Angelina for either Elle Magazine or Marie-Claire in the early ’90s. Angelina had intriguingly dark energy about her, but that wasn’t what the magazine wanted to portray. At one point, she took the belt off the dress she’d been wearing and tied it around her ankles. I swapped my standard lens for a wide-angle, so her feet and ankles dominated the frame and immediately captured the image. One for me, one for Angelina! This moment captured her true expression and identity.”

Redefining Identity and Recentering in London

Who hasn’t Kate Garner photographed? By the early 2000s, Garner’s list of credits had grown so vast, it was far easier to notate with which star she had not worked. But along with that sprawling web of work and constant drive-- manufactured expectations and overly edited deliverables--came burnout. Kate looked around at all the beauty she had created in the warm glow of Hollywood and wondered where her identity had gone. What was real, and what was raw? It was time for a change.

She decided to pack up her bags and go back to London, the birth of her career and the re-birth of her identity. For a time, she stepped back from photography altogether to focus on her first love--music.

But exploring the London streets where she first drew inspiration, the fine artist found herself once again drawn to England’s underground fantastical creatures

In the 90's Kate had photographed living, breathing art installations, Leigh Bowery.

bowery boys 40 x 56 _ JM Art Management.jpg

Bowery Boys, 1985

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

40 × 56 in

101.6 × 142.2 cm

"Leigh Bowery used to wear these fabulous costumes--more a human installation than a costume. He would wear oversized lips, pour paint down his heads, and adorn his body with other outlandish and exaggerated costuming, emanating a gender-fluid identity. I looked for people to photograph who had been inspired and carried this aesthetic forward, walking through the streets of London, riding the underground, existing as living, breathing works of art. Eventually, Sony asked me to photograph a new festival featuring these new Identity Artists, which I felt very moved by. Essentially this marked the re-launch of my work once again in photography; but in a new, more authentic, and alternative light.”

Return to LA

“When you have a craft you might go on and off it, but you’ll continue to do it,” regails Kate. Fortunately for Kate (and her audience), she now has the luxury to create in a more fluid and forgiving space. Fully focused and rooted in her truth as a preservationist of identity, Kate returned to Los Angeles with a vow to only do that which she found fulfilling. Trading the break-neck pace of over articulated industry cover shoots for more intimate, authentic sessions--her artistry has grown and everyone has been blessed. Kate’s dedication to authenticity not only preserved her purest sense of self, but every artistic interaction and iteration she formed moving forward.

 fkaTwigs Artsy 30 x 40 _ JM Art Management.jpg

fkaTwigs, 2010

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

40 × 30 in

101.6 × 76.2 cm

Edition of 20

In a rare and initially unwelcome experience, Kate has actually stepped forward into her final evolution as a fine artist. Thirteen years ago, everything vanished from Kate Garner’s Los Angeles storage space. She was left with mere scraps, a few digital files, and a couple of strips of film from a friend’s studio and her personal collections. These images had never been used commercially, and Kate found herself robbed of what felt like lifetimes of creation. It wasn’t until a family member of the Rolling Stones, in search of a unique gift for Kate Moss’s upcoming birthday sought out rare images of Kate for a surprise gift and found the teddy bear picture that Garner decided to breathe new life into the remains of her lost work.

 Milla pink blue Uke 20 x 29 _ Kate Garner _ JM Art Management.jpg

Milla pink blue Uke, 1993

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

29 × 20 in

73.7 × 50.8 cm

Edition of 20

milla pinkyellow uke Artsy 20 x 29 _ Kate Garner _ JM Art Management.jpg

Milla pinkyellow uke, 1993

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

29 × 20 in

73.7 × 50.8 cm

Edition of 20

MILLA PINK UKE ARTSY 20 X 29 _ Kate Garner _ JM Art Management.jpg

Milla pink uke, 1993

Hahnemuhle fine art archival paper

29 × 20 in

73.7 × 50.8 cm

Edition of 20

Today, Kate Garner enjoys the creative flexibility of a fully transitioned fine artist. There is no stone she has left unturned, from film to music to fine art photographic retouching, and even painting. She loves spending time (and working with) her daughter Grace in Space--a fellow creative musician and muse. She loves capturing the beauty of all sizes, stages, and ages of humans--especially women, and redefining that which we see and sense as “beauty”. But true to herself and her origin, Kate’s favorite current exploration is capturing the identity of that which is unseen, uncensored, and unexpected. “I was trained as a classic photographer, “ Kate says. “Like “F*ck it. Now I can now do what I want”.

View works on ARTSY

Written by:

Whitney Brielle
JM Art Management

*** All images are curtesy of the Artist and JM Art Management