The world of art and photography lost one of its great innovators in Corinne Day.
Day, who was credited for the rapid propulsion of Kate Moss’ career, died on August 27th at 45 after a long struggle with brain cancer. Her raw, unrefined style led to controversial critical reception and changed the face of 90’s photography.
Her creative life sparked at 12 when a painter friend of her grandmother’s began schooling her informally in art, imagery, and composition.
Day briefly modeled in her late teens, but was more focused on working behind the lens, and she picked up her first professional camera at 19.
It was her struggling model friends living in Los Angeles who became her first subjects and greatly shaped her unprocessed documentary style of photography.
Her California-seasoned portfolio was good enough to earn her a job working at one of the most revered and hip magazines of the age, the FACE.
In 1990, Day shot a young model whose face and career would shape the world of fashion from that time forward. Those images of a 16-year-old Kate Moss launched the both the model’s career and the heroin-chic look that shaped the decade. Her images of Moss in her flat from the March issue of Vogue a few years later sparked similar controversy, as Day was lambasted for sexualizing Moss’ near-adolescent looking body.
Day’s ideology of unedited and unforgiving photography was part of the reason creative directors and artistic types revered her, and conservative commercial editors were critical.
In the seven years following the famous, or infamous, Vogue shoot with Moss, Day painted an honest and open interpretation of her life, her friends, and acquaintances for her first published collection.
It was revered as a gritty, unrefined, and unedited portrait of the photographer’s life and work. Day continued to work for international editions of Vogue throughout her career.
Her work was showcased in the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, and Saatchi Gallery, among others, and was also included in The Andy Warhol exhibition at the Whitney Museum NY.
In 2009, it was announced that Day had been diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. Her friends and colleagues rallied around her and raised £100,000 so that she could receive immediate treatment.
Unfortunately the treatment was unsuccessful, and complications from her tumor led to her untimely demise.