Enthralled by the music and those who made it, Herman Leonard (1923–2010) began haunting the New York’s jazz clubs after opening his first studio in Greenwich Village in 1948. Armed with his Speed Graphic camera, Leonard made images that captured the very essence of a live jazz performance. Soon, his photographs were gracing album covers and appearing in the pages of DownBeat and Metronome. Leonard’s extraordinary photographs are widely regarded as the definitive portraits of many of the 20th century’s greatest jazz artists.
This exhibition from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery features Leonard’s iconic images of jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan.
“In the Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard” is made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. This exhibition is presented in celebration of the 2016 grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.