Photographer Anouk Krantz comes to Nashville for Artclectic

By Hollie Deese

Photographer Anouk Krantz was raised in France by a Dutch mom. She lives in New York and travels to remote areas of the world for work, but she has yet to make it to Nashville. That will change when she speaks at this year’s Artclectic — the annual fundraiser for University School of Nashville.

She will be discussing her new book, “West: The American Cowboy.” It is a study of the American cowboy that, fittingly, had her very much out of her element. Ultimately it inspired her to break down her misconceptions, as well as to challenge her subjects on their own.

“That whole world is really foreign to me, and to most of the people around the world,” Krantz says. “But the American cowboy is such a symbolic and iconic person — loved around the world. When I grew up in France, like most people, I read books, magazines, saw movies and knew about the American cowboy from the silver screen. When I moved to the U.S., I wanted to go and explore that part of the country.”

Krantz got her first camera when she was 5 years old, but she did not turn to photography full time until years of being in publishing and working for Cartier. During that time, she worked on what became a 10-year project, “Wild Horses of Cumberland Island,” exploring four corners of the remote island by herself.

Published in 2017, it became an acclaimed success.

“I didn’t know that it was going to become such a successful book,” Krantz said. “When I started doing lectures and talking about this whole journey, people asked me right away, ‘What is your next project?’ And when you worked for 10 years and you’re a full-time mom and you’re doing everything at home as well? You sort of can’t believe they’re asking what is next.”

What was next turned out to be “West,” which is scheduled for release in October 2019. But the seeds of it had been planted much earlier.

Krantz’ father-in-law is from a small ranch in Kansas, so going out there in 2004 was the first time she’d been to a rodeo and seen cowboys firsthand. She was enthralled, and whenever they went to Kansas she would try to find small rodeos, even driving to Oklahoma to take pictures. All of the pictures, though, went in a drawer and stayed on a hard drive — untouched.

“I just love the rodeos,” she says. “I love how the people came together, the community, the old people, the young people, men, women, babies, strollers. And then you go out and they’re all line dancing at midnight, one o’clock in the morning. And it’s just … a really good feeling, a happy feeling, all these people celebrating their lives and being all together.”

So when she was ready to think about the next project, she was drawn right away to that culture simply because it made her feel good.

“Their integrity, their love for the land, the community, their friends, their family — it’s just amazing,” she says.

So last summer she took her children, then 11 and 12, with her instead of putting them in camp and showed them that slice of the country. They took a one-way flight to Dallas, rented a Tahoe and got around using Google Maps for a month.

“The best thing you can do is drive and go and explore the most remote places. I wanted to take mine out West with me because I wanted them to see for themselves. We have so many misconceptions, and maybe I went out there with my own misconceptions about the American cowboy. They sure had their misconceptions about me. We come from two different worlds, and now? We’re family.”

They drove thousands of miles, throughout New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah and Texas, going to the most remote places and staying in motels.

“Nothing fancy, but that’s just how you see the country,” she says. “That was amazing for my kids to see. It’s when we actually go out there and see for ourselves and try to understand and listen first that we realize that we do have things in common.”

Her photographs will be for sale, both her Cumberland Island photographs and the new West series, and she will give a short lecture during a Nashville Interiors’ sponsored lunch from Vui’s Fresh Vietnamese during Artclectic. Krantz will also be signing copies of “West: The American Cowboy.”

Artclectic – Luncheon in the Gallery Featuring Anouk Krantz
October 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. in the Sperling Center at USN. Guest introduction by Nashville Interiors publisher Hollie Deese. Lunch is available for $15 or two for $20. Nashville Interiors Artclectic Designer Hours will follow the Luncheon in the Gallery from 1- 3 p.m.