Art Kane. A wonderful name, and a complete original. A brilliant, visionary New York based photographer whose legacy and legend live on today, and whose work remains unmatched. Kane made the legendary Harlem 1958 Jazz portrait, and his music archives include Louis Armstrong, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Frank Zappa, Cream, Eric Clapton, Sonny and Cher, Janis Joplin, and Aretha Franklin. He was the photographers’ photographer, an inspirational practitioner whose approach to portraiture is best summed up when he said “Performance shots are a waste of time, they look like everyone else’s. If you want to shoot a performer, then grab them, own them, you have to own people, then twist them into what you want to say about them.”
“I think of Art Kane as being strong, say, like a pumpkin sun in a blue sky. Like the sun, Art beams his eye straight at his subject, and what he sees, he pictures – and it’s usually a dramatic interpretation of personality.”Andy Warhol
Kane built his reputation as an Art Director (the youngest on a major NYC magazine) before embarking on a career as a photographer. He trained with the mercurial Alexey Brodovitch, a tough teacher who had a hand in the careers of legends such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. His first photographic assignment – in 1958 – was a portrait of no less than 57 of the world’s most famous Jazz musicians, taken on the 126th Street in Harlem. This was published in Esquire magazine to worldwide acclaim. It is probably the single greatest photograph in the history of Jazz – not a bad place to start your career.