Karin Rosenthal

Born: May 7, 1945; Hartford, Connecticut

Karin Rosenthal, a 1967 graduate of Wellesley College, has also studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology (1965) and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School (1970-1972). Exposed early to the joys and challenges of seeing life through a lens, Rosenthal is the third generation of her family to enjoy photography. A free-lance photographer since 1973, Rosenthal’s commercial work has included portrait, public relations, dance, and art reproduction photography. She now makes her living primarily from the sale of her fine art prints.

Since 1990, Rosenthal has devoted almost all of her time to fine art photography and to explorations of the nude and the landscape, a significant evolution from her earliest images which expressed a strong interest in the urban American experience. In the early 1970s, she photographed city crowds and did a lyrical study of lost, isolated individuals in alienating subway settings (People in City Spaces, 1972-1974). In the mid-70s, while working as a tutor of older male residents at an institution for the retarded, Rosenthal became fascinated with the unmasked and expressive faces around her, and created a strong series of portraits (Portraits of Developmentally Disabled Men, 1973-1975).

In 1979, Rosenthal was granted a one-year travelling fellowship from Wellesley College, to create portraits of Greek villagers (Greek Portraits, 1979) and to expand other visual ideas which were increasingly drawing her attention: a series of Nudes in Water. Daily feedback from her darkroom in Greece and additional trips following her grant, brought the latter series to a new level, simultaneously graphic and sculptural, combining bold contrasts with delicate tonalities (Nudes in Water, 1975-1981). The series later continued on Cape Cod where the changeable light and pond flora shifted the direction of the work and opened new visual possibilities (Cape Nudes, 1988- present).

The passion for observing still water and its interfaces that she discovered in the 1970s has remained an ever-present influence in her work. Even dry landscapes (Landscapes of the Southwest, 1986- present) are of scenes shaped by the forces of water. The sensuous quality of water is pervasive, whether or not the nude is included. The interest in human experience, although increasingly presented in abstract ways, also pervades the work. Images evoke conscious and unconscious worlds, paradoxical mysteries, sometimes humor. Where earlier photographs implied body as landscape and vice-versa, the figure and the landscape have become increasingly fused. In a recent series of color nudes (informally titled Puddle Pictures, 1991- present), a body is made of clay, or is joined with stone like a geode or a fresco.

Other portfolios include Cape Landscapes, 1988-present; Yoga Series, 1984; Multiple-Exposure Solarizations, 1982; B&W and Color Nudes, 1983- present; and B&W Infrared Nudes (1992- present).

She has taught at the Art Institute of Boston and the Newton Arts Center, and currently teaches a Figure and Landscape workshop for the Cape Cod Photo Workshops.

Rosenthal’s photographs are in several permanent collections, including the Boston MFA, Brooklyn Museum, Boston Public Library, International Center of Photography, Polaroid, and the Fogg, Rose, and Santa Barbara Art Museums. Portfolios of her work have been featured in the Swiss Nikon News, the leading German photo magazine, Fotomagazin, and the major U.S. design publication, Print Magazine, among others. Her nudes are represented in several books including Eros, Male Nudes by Women, The Hidden Image, the ICP Encyclopedia of Photography , and several European books of nude photography. Rosenthal’s photographs have been exhibited and collected internationally. Karin Rosenthal currently lives in Watertown, MA.