Swing! U.Va. Library Shows Portraits From The Golden Age Of Jazz
November 10, 2003 --
Shortly before World War II, a 22-year-old jazz enthusiast
named William P. Gottlieb began photographing jazz musicians to
columns he wrote for the Washington Post. A self-taught photographer,
he took only two or three pictures per session to save money on
flashbulbs and film.
his images rank among the most famous jazz photos ever taken,
and a new exhibition at the University
of Virginia Library, “Portraits
from the Golden Age of Jazz: Photographs by William P. Gottlieb,” features
60 of his remarkable works. The exhibition, on display in the
McGregor Room of Alderman Library, opens Friday, Nov. 14 and
worked for the Washington Post, Down Beat magazine, and other
publications from 1938 until the late 1940s, a time
the pioneers of New Orleans and Chicago jazz were still swinging
and while a younger generation of beboppers was moving the
music in new directions. Whether capturing the joyful exuberance
grinning trumpet legend Louis Armstrong in performance or the
elegance of bandleader Duke Ellington as he takes a break backstage,
Gottlieb’s portraits evoke the personalities of the musicians
as well as the essence of the era.
tried to capture a subject’s personality or inner qualities,” Gottlieb
wrote. “I reached these elusive goals only occasionally, though sometimes
very successfully, as with the shot of Billie Holiday that clearly shows
the anguish in her voice.”
the iconic images of jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and
Duke Ellington, Gottlieb’s photos were
published widely in magazines, books, album covers, posters, and even
on U.S. postage stamps.
addition to the photographs, the U.Va. Library is displaying
items from the Harlem Renaissance drawn from Special Collections, including
by James Weldon Johnson
and Zora Neale Hurston and an original letter about Billie Holiday
written by Langston Hughes. Also on display are original record album
from the era,
on loan from the University’s radio station 91.1 WTJU-FM and from a private
from the Golden Age of Jazz” is made possible by the Library
of Congress, which acquired Gottlieb’s photographs through
the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Fund. The exhibition’s tour is
managed by Smith Kramer Fine Arts.
hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9p.m., and
Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Sunday). Call
(434) 924-3025 for holiday hours or for more information.
online version of the exhibition will be posted at http://www.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/jazz.
To download this release and images to go with your story:
Charlotte Morford, (434) 924-4254