The London Photographic Association are very honoured to have been given all of the surviving prints and negatives made by the the photographer and sculptor Frederick Leslie Kenett F.I.B.P 1924 -2012.
Frederic lived in virtual isolation in the later days of his life and he is virtually unknown to the photographic and fine art community. It is our intention to rectify this over the coming months however, we have quite a job ahead of us as we sort through the 3,000 odd negatives and as yet , an unidentified amount of prints.
Frederick shot everything on 5x4 film or glass plate and the quality of his printing is truly breathtaking, everything printed on 20x16 White Fine Luster and produced using a process camera. We look forward to releasing some images in the very near future,
Frederick Leslie Kenett F.I.B.P 1924 -2012
“Unquestionably the greatest photographer of sculpting in the world who himself became a sculpture”. The Listener -T G Rosenthal.
Born in Berlin in 1924, son of a Berlin Doctor and forced to leave his country by the National Socialist party, whilst still a boy came to England in 1939. Frederick Leslie Cohen (later changed to Kenett shared a fugitive existence with others of his age and drifted from one means of livelihood to another without any apparent direction or sense of purpose.
So he joined the US Intelligence Corps during the war whereby he developed in his interest in photography and later enrolled at the Guildford School of Art to study photography.
It was only by pure chance that he acquired a camera this can only be described as an awakening: something that had been dormant in him was aroused and strenuously began to demand expression.
Frederick Kenett undertook assignments for, museums, publishers, governments and collections throughout the world.
He has taken photographs of European Sculpture in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and France often negotiating with governments. Frederick Kenett held copyrights to his work and there had been some instances of infringement that he fought.
From the mid sixties he ceased work as a photographer of sculpture to become a sculpture himself. He aroused the interest of leading London Galleries and his work was exhibited with much attention. Suddenly he stopped exhibiting but did not stop sculpting. He was prolific in his output, despite the restrictions of a studio flat in Kensington.
Frederick Kenett wrote “Isolation and self absorption, is also a theme if Seurat” with reference to himself. Please refer to Frederick Kenett ’s, sensitive, intellegent and in depth interpretation of various artists such as Cezanne. Transcipts 1992.
Brief resume with the limited material available of Mr F L Kenetts amazing life.
The Acanthus History of Sculpture 4 Volumes (Oldbourne Press)
The Art of Sculpture by Sir Herbert Read (Faber and Faber)
The Tate Gallery (Sculpture Section) (Thames and Hudson)
1951 – Guildford School of Art. Frederick Kenett won Summer Holiday Prize – The Sculptures of Michealangelo
1952 – First significant commission, as the Arts Counsel, the L.C.C and the Ministry of Education had planned an exhibition to mark the coronation. Kenett was to make a photographic survey of Royal Tombs in Westminster Abbey. Please read Ark and review below)
1952 -Frederick Kenett’s photographs were shown to MD Molesworth the Curator of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum and was impressed by them.
1953 – Exhibition at the Tate Gallery in connection with the Unknown Political Prisoner competition.
1954 – Became acting Head of the Photography School, London School of Printing and Graphic Arts.
1955 - Received a Fellowship from the American Bollingen Foundation which enabled him to
spend several months taking photographs in France, Italy and Spain. He was made free of Florence of and of Pisa; where the Renaissance shines at its brightest; next came Rome and Spanish Baroque.
1958- Made a survey of life in Mexico.
Date to confirm – A few of his remarkable studies of the Elgin Marbles featured in LIFE magazine.
1959 – Commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum to make photographic study of the Cloisters in New York.
1959 – Commissioned to take the first colour photographs the publisher George Rainbird. ”Operation Cairo “began which lead by Mr Kenett and extensive negotiations with the Egyptian Government to take the first colour photographs of the artefacts of Tutankhamen.
He worked with difficulty under surveillance and was at one point accused of damaging an a claw of one of the artefacts. He proved his innocence using existing B& W photos.
1961- The Photography of F L Kenett is featured in ARK- Journal of the Royal College of Art (Review below) and summery.
1962 – Undertook negotiations and agreement with the Nigerian Government to take colour photographs of a minimum of 100 Nigerian Sculptures.
1962 – Frederick Kenett wrote an Introduction and photographed some of Bryan Kneale’s work for the Redfern Gallery. One of the most gifted sculptor’s of England
1963- The British Journal of Photography – Feature on Frederick Kenett - “My Kind of Photography”
1963- Chief Curator Madam Christiane Desroches- Noblecourt of the National Museum of France who worked with Mr Kenett and wrote the Acanthus History of Sculpture – on Eygpt was so inspired by his photographs, Mme Noblecourt wrote the book Tutankhamen working alongside Mr Kenett photographer of Sculpture “par excellence.” See reviews below.
1963 – Sunday Times colour magazine book review Tutankhamen and Mr Kenett’s beautiful colour illustration on the front page and enclosed.
1963 – Mr Kenett started to work as a sculptor. He met Thomas Moore inspired by his work they travelled together to South of France to meet Picasso. The aim to write a book featuring Picasso’s work unfortunately Picasso’s eldest son objected.
1964- Awarded one of the Finalist Prizes in the Littlewoods Sculptural Design (first one man exhibition) competition, Liverpool.
1964-National Sculpture Competition –Judges selected Mr Kenetts entry to be publically exhibited at the Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery.
1966- The Listener – Mr Rosenthal declared Mr Kenett “Unquestionably the greatest photographer of sculpture in the world who himself became a sculptor.” (See review)
1966- Exhibition of Mr Kenetts sculptures at the Grosvenor Gallery 1966. (See docs)
1966- Arts Review – Kenetts work “Beautifully finished bronzes conceived in the statistically
perfect geometric from that rejects self-preoccupation of the over personal. See review.
1968 –Mr Kenett produced a catalogue of all the pictures that he had taken over a long period of time. It objective was to reveal the qualities and three dimensional plasticity of some of the world’s great works of art.
1972- Evening Standard Souvenir featuring a 24 page souvenir with colour Photographs.
1990 – History Today – Photographs taken by Mr F L Kenett and used in the feature.
Acanthus History of Sculpture was to present a series of books. “The overhaul aim of the series was to provide a history of sculpture through style and form which covered a selection of masterpieces the major cultural epochs of civilisations of our world.
The full range of series in the Acanthus History offered a full survey of the whole development of sculpture and a “new” insight onto man’s thought and civilisation throughout the ages.
The importance of the series and the key to its effectiveness and success above all lies in its
Mr F.L Kenett was chosen by the Editors (Edited by Sir Herbert Read and H D Molesworth Curator of Sculpture Victoria and Albert Museum) for his extraordinarily beautiful and revealing camerawork, is the only photographer specialising in sculpture that combines such technical skill with both a learned and intuitive understanding of this vast subject. (see review).
The art counsel staged an Exhibition in its St James Square gallery of photographs of the Royal Tombs in Westminster 1953.
Eric Newton – who was the most eminent Art Critic on England comments on Fred Kennett’s
Photographs “...of such superlative excellence...” Mr Newton makes reference to the lighting conditions:
“ideal conditions of light that cannot be achieved in the Abbey itself” in which the images are photographed. In fact Mr Kenett DID take the photographs in the Abbey
under ideal lighting conditions, due to the erection of scaffolding and hoisting of 6 cwt of lighting and other equipment onto platforms etc. Mr Kenett goes on to say:
“Mr Newton probably thought some of the effigies were photographed by me during the war period when they had been removed from the Abbey for safekeeping.” (Copy ,of review available).
Date to confirm – Times literary supplement Golden Age of Spanish Sculpture (Thames and Hudson). “All the works here reproduced are still in the country in which they were made. In these circumstances it is fortunate that, thanks to the photographs specially taken for the monochrome plates by Mr F.L Kenett, they have never before been so well produced.”
1963 – Reviews of the book Tutankhamen and Mr Kenetts photography. It was the first time the objects from Tutankhamen’s tomb have been photographed out of their cases.
Whitefriars- Book of the Month “...quite staggeringly beautiful illustrations...”
♣ “...collectors piece....George Rainbird (publisher) “....colour book of the year..”
Daily Mail – “...splendid colour plates by F.LKenett. A very handsome book
The Queen - “...beautifully illustrated...”
The Times – Feature
Evening Standard – recognised the elaborate negotiations with the Egyptian
Government. When Mr Kenett arrived he was flung out and had to start negotiations again!
Liverpool Echo -“Fort Knox would have been an easier assignment than Photographing the treasures of Tutankhamen “.....lavishly illustrate.”
Financial Times - Feature
Books and Bookmen – “ one of the most outstanding and beautiful
Archaeological books of recent times. “....a series of 75 absolutely magnificent colour plates by F.L.Kenett makes the book and intellectual and aesthetic delight.
Nottingham Guardian Journal -“...superlatively beautiful colour plates”
The Conisseur – Mr H D Molesworth (Head Curator V& A) “...Illustrated by a world leading photographer.”
Country Life - Feature
3 March 1966 – TG Rosenthal declared “Fred Kenett, unquestionably the greatest photographer of sculpture in the world, became a sculpture himself only three years ago and has obviously accomplished a great deal in that short space of time.”As one might expect there is a fine sense of form and an acute feeling for bronze as a material; as if having looked at it for so long, he has discovered its mystery.. ...one usually finds only in work by senior and more illustrious names.” (Copy of review available)
Mr Kenett deserves the recognition as THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHER .........AND A GREAT ARTIST......