Remembering Corinne Day (1965-2010)

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A photo by Corinne Day that appeared in the November 2003 issue of Italian Vogue.

Photographer Corinne Day died last Friday of a brain tumor. She was 45 years old, according to her official biography, although some public records indicate she was 48. Best known for her iconic portraits of Kate Moss, who she stumbled upon 20 years ago in the London offices of Storm modeling agency, Day added a layer of grit to the high-gloss world of fashion photography, channeling the likes of Nan Goldin and Larry Clark into a new, commercial context. “Fashion photography had always been about fantasy. I wanted to take it in the opposite direction,” she once said. “The best thing I did for fashion was bringing it down to earth, bringing a documentary quality to it. I wanted to put in that feeling of youth culture.”

Day’s untimely death has elicited a variety of tributes, memories, and considerations of her legacy. Writing in The New York Times, Douglas Martin highlighted Day’s “unrelenting visual honesty,” noting that she “refused to airbrush the bags from under models’ eyes or de-emphasize their knobby knees.” The Telegraph‘s Lucy Davies concludes that Day’s work “fired the imagination of a whole generation of photographers,” including Juergen Teller, Craig McDean, and David Sims. Meanwhile, Charlotte Higgins sees an even bigger picture, writing in The Guardian, “With hindsight, the power of Day’s pictures is that they seem to echo a moment in British cultural history, one that goes beyond the emergence of grunge as a fashion trend, and might also call to mind the grubbier shores of Britpop, the youthful antics of artists such as Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, and the publication of novels such as Irvine Welsh‘s Trainspotting.”