Karen Knorr was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1960s. She finished her education in Paris and London. Karen has taught, exhibited and lectured internationally, including at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The University of Westminster, Goldsmiths, Harvard and The Art Institute of Chicago. She studied at the University of Westminster in the mid-1970s, exhibiting photography that addressed debates in cultural studies and film theory concerning the ‘politics of representation’ practices which emerged during the late 1970s qnd early 1980s. She is currently Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey.
Karen Knorr produced Belgravia (1979-1981) a series of black and white photographs with ironic and humorous texts that highlighted aspirations, lifestyle and the British class system under the neo liberalist Thatcher era in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Her most well known work called Gentlemen (1981-1983) was photographed in Saint James’s clubs in London and investigated the patriarchal conservative values of Britain during the Falklands war. Karen ’s work developed a critical and playful dialogue with documentary photography using different visual and textual strategies to explore her chosen subject matter that ranges from the family and lifestyle to the animal and its representation in the museum context.
In 1986 her work Connoisseurs used colour to explore connoisseurship regarding authenticity, heritage and art in England. Here she introduced elements and staged events in the architectural interiors of Chiswick House, Osterley Park House and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The use of text and captioning appeared as a device to slow down consumption of the image and to comment on the received ideas of fine art in museum culture. These strategies still appear in her photography today with digital collage of animals, objects and social actors in museums and architecture challenging the authority and power of heritage sites in Europe and more recently in India.