An forgotten revolution
Borneo (Kate in floppy sun hat) August 1991 © Corinne Day
Borneo (Kate with snorkel & googles) August 1991 © Corinne Day
Borneo (Kate in phone booth) August 1991 © Corinne Day
Heaven is Real (Kate eyes closed), February 1991 © Corinne Day
Heaven is Real (Kate eyes open) February 1991 © Corinne Day
Heaven is Real (Kate and Lorraine) February 1991 © Corinne Day
Kate Mosse 9 portraits, 2006 © Corinne Day
Rosemary spiderweb top, 1992 © Corinne Day
Borneo (Kate carrying coconuts) August 1991 © Corinne Day
Corinne Day is celebrated this month with the release of Heaven is Real, a publication by Mörel Books containing previosly unpublished images, and the opening at Gimpel Fils of The Face, an exhibition that revisits some of her earliest works providing an opportunity to appreciate Day’s remarkable artistic legacy.
Corinne Day passed away in August 2010 after she was diagnosed with a slow growing brain tumour in November 1996 outliving the doctors’ prognosis by over six years. Day gained notoriety in the early 1990s for her collaboration with The Face. A magazine that set itself as innovative and daring with its radical art direction and a talented team focused on the underground movements and youth culture. The images that Corinne Day created for The Face caused an immediate international sensation and affirmed her as a photographer with a refreshing and unique style.
In 1990 Corinne Day impressed the world with the Third Summer of Love cover shoot for The Face that presented a barely-known teenage Kate Moss and introduced the model’s infamous waif look. The first editorials for the magazine were published in the February and August 1991 issues that featured respectively the series Heaven is Real and Borneo with friend and muse, Kate Moss.
The British photographer was able to convey from the pages of the magazine the spirit of the time with her natural, real, joyful and youthful images. She was one of the pioneers of grunge: a style that quickly grew into an international phenomena and defined an entire decade. Day challenged with her images the world of fashion and photography breaking preconceived notions of beauty and redefining a language.
She wanted to leave behind an outdated vision of fashion as an exclusive circle and the cliché of overindulgent übermodels in exotic locations. Rather proposing freedom and spontaneity that became central elements to her work. Her photographs captured a joyful femininity and sensuality that didn’t feel staged or removed from the world. In the series Borneo, Day brought the ease and familiarity of holiday snaps to her professional work. Moss was pictured walking out of the sea in flippers, wandering the streets and interacting with the people around her.
In 2006 the National Portrait Gallery in London commissioned the photographer a portrait of Kate Moss: a memorable multi-panel work of nine black & white close-ups. The work premiered in the exhibition Face of Fashion the following year and is part of NPG’s Photographs’ Collection. Sandy Nairn, the Director, compared the portrait to a Victorian scientific study of emotions. Day engaged the model in a real conversation with a topic of her own choice during which Moss revealed her authentic emotional reactions and feelings.
Corinne Day’s independent spirit and strong will caused her several difficulties and saw her involved in serious controversies. Although these couldn’t affect the position that she established over the years and the contribution that Day gave to both photography and fashion.
Corinne Day, The face
Until 1 October 2011
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