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Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman
Usage Conditions Apply
Frederick J. Brown, 1945 - 2012
Ornette Coleman, 9 Mar 1930 - 11 Jun 2015
Oil and charcoal on linen
Stretcher: 121.9 x 101.6cm (48 x 40")
Frame: 124.5 x 105.4 x 7cm (49 x 41 1/2 x 2 3/4")
Ornette Coleman: Male
Ornette Coleman: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Ornette Coleman: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Saxophonist
Ornette Coleman: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Ornette Coleman: Pulitzer Prize
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Joel and Sherry Mallin and Sebastienne and Bentley Brown
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© 1992, Frederick J. Brown
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Fort Worth, Texas
For both his musical virtuosity on alto saxophone and his compositions, Ornette Coleman is one of the major forces in American music in the late twentieth century. Like painter Jackson Pollock and writer Walt Whitman, who rejected traditional forms as too constrictive for human expression, Coleman broke with existing jazz diction, creating a raw sound that seemed to deliberately avoid the musical scale in favor of "playing in the cracks." In 1959, Coleman's quartet produced The Shape of Jazz to Come, a musical manifesto that was the aural equivalent of Pollock's abstract expressionism. Coleman disavowed the idea that "free jazz," as his music was called, was pure improvisation, maintaining that careful planning went into each composition. In the 1970s Coleman moved into jazz funk, using electrified instruments. He is still a prolific musician, and his album Sound Grammar won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2007.
The artist [1992]; purchased through donor gift NPG 2006
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery