Exhibition Review: Cathleen Naundorf

Rory Bishop gives his opinion on the Cathleen Naundorf Exhibition

The Fotografiska is a photography museum located on the riverside in Stockholm and it has a constant influx of interesting exhibitions. I was lucky enough to see one of these presenting the various works of photographer Cathleen Naundorf, famed for her fashion photography and photojournalism.

Her first major independent study came in the form of her growing interest in fashion.

Born in a divided Germany in 1968, Cathleen had claimed that previously clothing was of no interest to her. In her young years she maintained the sentiments that clothes were merely to keep one warm and covered. However, over time her opinion changed as she went on to study a design degree in Munich, with photography being her specialist passion. She went on to work as an assistant in various major cities such as Paris and New York throughout the 90s before turning her eye to photojournalism at the turn of the millenium.

Her first major independent study came in the form of her growing interest in fashion. From 2004-2011 she worked on her portfolio Un Rêve de Mode translating to ‘a dream of fashion’. This was the focus of the exhibition and was a fascinating study of fashion. I had previously, despite being an avid photographer, never delved into the world of fashion photography but her work was captivating nonetheless. Her prominence in the haute couture scene had given her access to the Maison’s collection of dresses and clothing, making the exhibition especially unique and eye catching. Her use of contrast is striking, but the use of polaroid cameras is what really distinguishes her work. Sacrificing the technical and statistical benefits of modern digital single lens, reflex technology is a unique approach but one Naundorf uses with great effectiveness. The intentional errors and scuffs made by the polaroids help solidify her depictions.

The Fotografiska presents a wonderful portfolio of Naundorf’s work

Although not the main focus of the exhibition, a noteworthy factor was the inclusion of her other major work Noah’s Ark. This collection shows models, accompanied by animals, in front of various canvases showing the great flood. The fact that the photos are once again imperfect, showing the sides of the modelling sets, reflects the imperfections of the polaroids in Un rêve de Mode, and the selection of animals often compliment the models nicely. However, it seems more lacking then the previously collection, with a lesser sense of variety that could be the result of its much smaller size.

My personal favorite piece in the whole exhibition was undoubtedly My Paradise Bird, I which was a part of Un Rêve de Mode. With incredible contrast and a beautiful composition, this piece deserves to be extolled for its incredible nature and eye-catching framing.


Finding interesting photography exhibitions is hard, as they are often fraught with unnecessary tropes and lack genuine charm. However, The Fotografiska presents a wonderful portfolio of Naundorf’s work. I would highly recommend those interested in photography to further research her work. If you wish to find some of her work closer to home, her work is often shown at the Hamilton gallery in London.