Kate Cordsen (born 1964, Great Falls, Virginia, United States) is an American photographer and contemporary artist. Cordsen lives in New York City.
She received a BA in the history of art and East Asian Studies from Washington and Lee University (founded 1749) where she was the first woman in the university's history to receive an undergraduate degree. Cordsen has an MPP from Georgetown University and studied Chinese and Japanese Art History at Harvard University and photography at the International Center of Photography.
In the late 1980s Kate Cordsen worked for Ford Models. She walked the runway and did print advertisements for many fashion designers including the Japanese avant-garde artists Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto. Cordsen credits this time as a model as both the beginning of her education in photography and as formative in understanding Japanese aesthetics.
Known for large format landscapes, Cordsen produces ethereal and ambiguous images that evoke ideas of fragmented memories and temporality. Her landscapes are, at first glance, simply meditative, but reveal impassioned and dramatic depths upon second and third looks. She often combines 19th century chemical methods with traditional film and digital technologies. Kate Cordsen's landscapes are a hybrid study of both photography and painting. The final result is that her pieces possess a certain aesthetic that seems attainable only through the act of painting.
From 2015, Cordsen has worked exclusively in cyanotype and gum bichromate, two of the earliest forms of photography. In a departure from her ethereal, magical realist landscapes, she is creating monumental abstract photograms that invoke the works of early modernists Harry Holtzman, Piet Mondrian and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Using primarily found objects, she composes her large-format photogram photographs through a demanding process that requires both physical, painterly dynamism, and chemical precision. Kate Cordsen's work explores the tension between chance, accident, and control.