Jazz Photography in American Culture: Race and Image, 1938-1964


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History Department


This study examines the work of photographers who made jazz a significant subject in their work from the height of the swing era to the advent of rock. Photography became an important element in jazz's bid for both high cultural acceptance and popular appeal. As photographers, musicians, art directors, editors, and record producers combined to create a jazz-based visual culture, African American musicians were portrayed in dynamic new ways. Oral history interviews, examination of published magazine photoessays, research into the development of album covers for long-playing records, and analysis of gender and racial factors characterize the project. Featured photographers include Roy DeCarava, W. Eugene Smith, Herman Leonard, William Claxton, William Gottlieb, Francis Wolff, and Gjon Mili.