The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present Legends of Jazz Photography, featuring the works of Herman Leonard, William Gottlieb, and William Claxton. This exhibition is a photographic journey through the golden years of the Jazz, Blues and Bebop eras that document the larger-than-life legends that comprise the visual album of America's music. Focusing on the life and times of famed artists such as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk among countless others, this exhibition features a selection from their extensive photographic history.
Herman Leonard was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1923. Discovering the camera at the age of 11, Leonard began his career by photographing friends in school. As a teenager, Leonard discovered that the camera could grant him access into many concert venues. Leonard attended Ohio University to pursue a bachelor's degree in photography--a relatively new course of study in the 1940s. In 1943, World War II interrupted his studies and Leonard joined the Army Medical Corps in Burma, but continued his affair with the camera, developing film late at night in his combat helmet. After the war, Leonard continued his coursework and graduated in 1947. Undergoing a series of projects throughout his early years, Herman Leonard studied under Canadian portraiture photographer Yousuf Karsh for a year, which granted Leonard the invaluable opportunity to photograph the likes of Albert Einstein, Harry S. Truman and Clark Gable among others. In the 1950s, Leonard became the personal photographer to Marlon Brando and later moved to Paris where he worked fashion and advertising jobs for magazines such as Playboy, Life, and Time. Most recently, the Smithsonian Institution honored Herman Leonard by acquiring a complete set of his most important photographs for their permanent archives of musical history.
William Claxton (1927-2008) spent six decades capturing images of Hollywood celebrities, Fashion, and many of the significant jazz musicians of the period. His iconic images of Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and many others reflect his preeminence among photographers of jazz music. Claxton began his career shooting jazz record cover art and continued throughout his career to work for many of the biggest publishers including Life, Paris Match, and Vogue magazines. His work has been shown in galleries and museums around the world. He passed away on October 11, 2008 in his hometown Los Angeles just shy of this 81st birthday.
William Gottlieb’s photographs reveal America’s musical giants from a uniquely intimate perspective. His ability to show the soul and energy of jazz goes back to his roots as a journalist for The Washington Post. White covering the music beat in his weekly column, Gottlieb traveled with the Big Bands and frequented Harlem’s legendary jazz clubs. Through his passion for the music and deep respect for the artists Gottlieb was able to capture the fervor and glamour of the golden era of Jazz. Gottlieb’s catalogue of photographs have appeared in newspapers, television documentaries, magazines, museums, and on over 250 album covers. The Library of Congress houses over 2,000 black-and-white photographs and in 1994, four of his images of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, and Jimmy Rushing became stamps. Gottlieb died April 24, 2005 at his home in Great Neck, New York at the age of 89.