As August 27 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of Corinne Day’s death, next month sees Gimpel Fils gallery, Mörel Books and Whitechapel Gallery all pay homage to the legendary image-maker. Revolutionising fashion photography in the early 90s with her candid and documentary aesthetic, sensationally labelled “heroin chic”, Day is also credited with helping launch the career of her close friend Kate Moss. Causing controversy with her daring and often provocative imagery – which featured models and friends in intimate and gritty situations – Day’s photographs have become synonymous with the decade that brought about grunge, acid house and rave culture.
Starting her career at The Face magazine – it was here where Day infamously shot Moss aged 16 in "The Third Summer of Love" eight-page editorial – Gimpel Fils gallery will be exhibiting Corinne Day, The Face in the first-solo show since her death. As The Face became renowned for breaking boundaries with its radical art direction and page design, Day’s striking imagery provided the perfect fit. Also on show will be many of Day’s lesser-known images that include the magazine’s "Heaven is Real", February 1991 and "Borneo", August 1991 fashion stories. Here an ethereal, playful and provocative vision of teenage femininity is captured as Moss is pictured in the sea in flippers, bikini-clad with beer and also enacting a care-free friendship with model Lorraine Pascale.
Taking its title from the Feburary 1991 fashion editorial, Heaven is Real will be published by Mörel Books to coincide with the exhibition, featuring unpublished photographs by Day taken in the late 80s and early 90s. An apt summarisation of how Day found beauty all around her, the photographs which were shot in-between fashion shoots and whilst filming a documentary following a group of homeless teenagers in Berlin reflect how Day’s observational style of photography seamlessly blended her work life with her personal life, never switching off.
Turning the direction of the camera onto Day, Whitechapel Gallery will be screening Corinne Day: Diary, 2002 directed by Mark Szaszy. Offering up an intimate and compelling documentary portrait, the short film traces Day’s life between 1992 and 2002: exploring her fall from grace when in 1993 her photographs of Moss were regarded as glamourising drug abuse and anorexia; her own battle with a brain tumour in 1996; and how in 2000 her exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery, London launched her back into the public eye.
Corinne Day, The Face runs at Gimpel Fils gallery from 1 September – 1 October. Heaven is Real is published by Mörel Books and out in September. Corinne Day: Diary, 2002 will screen on 25 September.
Text by Lucia Davies