Corinne Day: The Woman Who Captured The 90s

Corinne Day's work created the aesthetics of her time. A new book pays tribute

Few photographers come to epitomise the time they work in. Fewer still can be said to have created an aesthetic that transcended those times. Corinne Day was one.

Self-taught, she was as much a documentarian as a photographer, creating work that was unvarnished and intimate. A former model herself, her breakthrough came in 1990 when she shot an unknown 16 year old Kate Moss for a cover story – 'The 3rd Summer Of Love' – published in The Face.

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Hard-edged and raw, her work was the perfect mirror to grunge and the anticorporate mood of the mid-nineties.

"Photography is getting as close as you can to real life, showing us things we don't normally see," she said. "These are people's most intimate moments, and sometimes intimacy is sad."

Instead of cashing in on what would surely have been a lucrative career in fashion photography, Day turned instead to photographing her life and times, youth culture and her friends. She "aspired to reportage" she said. She travelled the world with her partner Mark Szaszy, whom she met on a train in Tokyo.

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Her work has been exhibited in galleries around the world including the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A, the Saatchi Gallery and the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York.

Day died from a brain tumor in 2010, having been diagnosed in 1996. Now a new book and exhibition compiled by Szaszy charts her early period and breakthrough years, from 1987 to 1996. If you've ever wondered where the verité, underexposed aesthetic that still regulalry plays out in the pages of magazine fashion shoots today comes from, look no further.

 

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May The Circle Remain Unbroken, Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, October 18–November 23. The accompanying book is published by Morel books. gimpelfils.com. morelbooks.com

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