Corinne Day

Now representing The Corinne Day Estate

Corinne Day, a self taught photographer, first became known for the images she published in 1990 in The Face of her friend, Kate Moss. The series launched what came to be known as 'grunge' style. Day photographed her again in 1993 for British Vogue and it was these shots - Moss in skimpy underwear and American tan tights, at home in her dingy, west London flat - which further changed the face of fashion photography, and unleashed an international furore.

Her style of 'dirty realism' was to become enormously influential within mainstream advertising. But where the imagery of nonchalant, nonconformist youth was for Day an extension of her life, in fashion the 'look' returned as pure, empty style. Day started to distance herself from the high-gloss world of magazines and catwalks, but did never stopped making photographs.

Diary - was her first solo exhibition in London in 2000. It was the culmination of ten years' work and was an intensely personal and frank photographic account of her life and friendships during the last decade of the century in London. The series drew comparison with artists such as Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, who also live what they photograph. Like them, Day was curious about people who pursue experiences beyond the norm. She was extremely, at times even unbearably, close to the friends she photographs and yet she was so trusted that her presence was never regarded as intrusive, even at the most intimate moments.

At times, Diary was bleak and despairing, as it chronicles these young lives with uncompromising honesty. At others, it was joyful in its simple celebration of friendship. Any sense of voyeurism was tempered by the fact that Day clearly shared in the lives of her subjects. Whether visible or not, she was always, herself, emotionally present in her photographs.

One of the most affecting, and harrowing sequences within the exhibition records Day's hospitalisation following the diagnosis of a brain tumour in 1996. Even at moments of maximum anxiety and pain, she made sure that the camera was there to record the intensity of her experience.

Her best friend Tara is a central figure in Diary. Events in Tara's life - partying, sexual liaisons, illness and finally, motherhood - unfold in front of her friend's camera. Tara has an ambiguous beauty - sometimes fresh and pretty, sometimes sad or wasted, always natural and uninhibited - the perfect subject for Day's own understated photographic aesthetic.

 

Corinne Day's pictures are often as unembellished and authentic as snapshots. They have a fragile, unstyled, poetic beauty that she made all her own.

May 13, 2022