Nadav Kander

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Nadav Kander
Born (1961-12-01) December 1, 1961 (age 53)
Known for Photography, Artist, Director

Nadav Kander (born December 1, 1961) is a London-based photographer, artist and director, known for his portraiture and landscapes. His work is included in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Société Générale, Paris, Pictet & Cie’s Art Collection and other museums and galleries.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

Nadav was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His father flew Boeing 707s for El-Al but lost his eye and was unable to continue flying. His parents decided to start again in South Africa and moved to Johannesburg in 1963. Kander began taking pictures when he was 13 on a Pentax camera. He states the pictures that he took then and until he was 17, although unaccomplished, have the same sense of quiet and unease that is part of his work today. After being drafted into the South African Air Force, Kander worked in a darkroom printing aerial photographs. It was there he became certain he wanted to be a Photographer. He moved to London in 1986, where he still resides with his wife Nicole and their three children.[1]


Kander is best know for his Yangtze - The Long River series, for which he earned the prestigious Prix Pictet Prize. Nadav made several voyages along the course of China's Yangtze River, travelling upstream from mouth to source over a period of three years. Using the river as a metaphor the journey begins at the coastal estuary, where thousands of ships leave and enter each day, and moves past renowned suicide bridges, coal mines and the largest dam in the world - The Three Gorges Dam. Further inland we encounter Chongqing - the fastest-growing urban centre on the planet. Kander never photographed further than twenty miles from the river itself. In the shadow of epic construction projects we see workers, fishermen, swimmers and even a man washing his motorbike in the river. Dense architecture gives way to mountains in the upper reaches towards the river's Tibetan source - a sparsely populated area where the stream is mostly broken ice and just ankle deep. The photographs are dominated by immense architectural structures where humans are shown as small in their environment. Figures are dwarfed by landscapes of half completed bridges and colossal Western-style apartment blocks that are rapidly replacing traditional Chinese low-rise buildings and houseboats. Throughout the series, we can almost feel the weight of the humid air and haze of pollution, which Kander describes in muted tones occasionally enlivened by the smallest bright touches of clothing. Nadav Kander said: “The photographs are an emotional response to what I saw. I gave them simple titles so that viewers are encouraged to respond subjectively before seeking the facts “

In 2010- 2012 Nadav photographed a series of nudes - Bodies. 6 Women. 1 Man - in his London Studio. Coated in white marble dust and set against the void of the photographer's studio the subjects serve as a monumental study of the human condition. Far from the airbrushed perfection that permeates images of nudity in popular culture the 'Bodies' featured reference the forms of the classical and renaissance past, whilst modernising the genre of the nude to act as a tool for philosophical investigation. "Revealed yet concealed. Shameless yet shameful. Ease with unease. Beauty and destruction. These paradoxes are displayed in all my work; an inquiry into what it feels like to be human." Nadav Kander

Rooted in an interest in the 'aesthetics of destruction' Kander's most recent project Dust explores the vestiges of the Cold War through the radioactive ruins of secret cities on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia. Kander explains "Ruins conjure paradoxical emotions. We are at the same time frightened and mesmerised by destruction, as we are by death. And without being fully aware of what is pulling me, I am continually drawn to explore this theme: the darker side of our nature, of mankind." Fascinated by the area’s past and driven by discovery, Kander’s photographs portray stark fact and bleak setting with a characteristic poeticism. Secrets seem to seep from the silence of the crumbling monuments, bowing under heavy grey skies. Describing what he saw as ‘empty landscapes of invisible dangers’ Kander’s images evoke his sense of awe and fear as he responded to these places and to the weight of their history. These images do not make beautiful what is not, they ask of us that we repurpose ourselves to accept a new order of both the beautiful and the real Will Self, 2014.

On 18 January 2009 Nadav Kander had 52 full colour portraits published in one issue of The New York Times Magazine. These portraits were of the people surrounding President Barack Obama, from Joe Biden (Vice President) to Eugene Kang (Special Assistant to The President). This is the largest portfolio of work by the same photographer The New York Times Magazine has ever showcased in one single issue.[3]

In July 2012 Kander exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London with a series of portraits celebrating London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics. In 2014 Nadav was among the 18 leading photographers chosen to be a part of Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, an exhibition at the Barbican Centre London, which explores the ability of architectural photography to reveal wider truths about our society. The exhibition is currently on tour in Europe (2015).

Nadav Kander is a Trustee of the The Lowry.


Kander is represented by Flowers Gallery - London, M97 Gallery - Shanghai, Blindspot Gallery - Hong Kong and Camera Work Photographie - Berlin.

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • 2001: Beauty's Nothing, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York
  • 2001: Night, Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
  • 2005: Keep Your Distance, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
  • 2008: Yangtze: From East to West, Flowers Gallery London
  • 2005: Obama's People, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
  • 2009: Obama's People, Flowers Gallery, London
  • 2010: Yangtze - The Long River, M97 Gallery, Shanghai
  • 2010: Obama’s People - Nadav Kander / The Family - Richard Avedon, The Kennedys, Berlin, Germany
  • 2010: Prix Pictet Laureates, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2011: Selected Portraits 1999-2011, The Lowry Manchester UK
  • 2011: Infinite Balance: Artists and the Enviroment, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego
  • 2011: Body Gestures, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel
  • 2011: Yangtze – The Long River, Forum Fur Fotografie, Cologne, Germany
  • 2012: Road to 2012, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 2012: Yangtze - The Long River, Haggerty Museum, USA
  • 2013: Bodies. 8 Women, 1 Man. Flowers Gallery, London
  • 2013: Landmark: Fields of Photography, Somerset House, London, UK
  • 2014: Curves of Moon and Rivers of Blue, Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong
  • 2014: Yangtze - The Long River, Haggerty Museum, USA
  • 2014: Dust, Flowers Gallery, London
  • 2014: Dust, Les Rencontres d'Arles
  • 2014: Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, Barbican, London
  • 2015: Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, Stockholm
  • 2015: Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, Museo ICO, Madrid



In October 2009 Kander was announced as the winner of the Prix Pictet 'Earth' 2009 for his Yangtze - The Long River series. He was chosen from a shortlist of 12 nominees that included Ed Kashi, Andreas Gursky and Naoya Hatakeyama. The award was presented in Paris at the Passage de Retz by Kofi Annan, Honorary President of the Prix Pictet.

He was named International Photographer of the Year at the 7th Annual Lucie Awards in 2009 and has also received awards from Art Director’s Club and IPA in the USA, from the D&AD and the John Kobal Foundation in the UK and Epica in Europe. He was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s ‘Terence Donovan’ Award in 2002 and was nominated for the Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize in 2003. In 2008 he was awarded the Silver Photographer of the Year at the Lianzhou International Photo Festival in China.

He won the photography category of the 2011 London Awards for Art and Performance and 1st Prize for Staged Portraits Singles, World Press Photo, 2013.


  • Hogson, F. and Marzorati, G. (2009) Nadav Kander: Obama’s People. Flowers East, London.
  • Kander, N. and Tchang, J. P. (2010) Nadav Kander: Yangtze, The Long River. Hatje Cantz.
  • Kander, N. (2012) Nadav Kander: Bodies 6 Women 1 Man: Inner Condition. Hatje Cantz.
  • Kander, N. and Self W. (2013) Nadav Kander: Dust. Hatje Cantz.

Contributions to publications[edit]

  • Contatti. Provini d'Autore = Choosing the best photo by using the contact sheet. Vol. II. Edited by Giammaria De Gasperis. Rome: Postcart, 2013. ISBN 978-88-98391-01-1.


External links[edit]