The DuSable Museum of African American History will present a celebration of the release of “Art Kane: Harlem 1958,” a new book which marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most celebrated images in American history. The event will take place on Friday, October 18, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at the Museum located at 740 East 56th Place (57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue) in Chicago.
The coffee table book, Art Kane: Harlem 1958, which was released in November 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most celebrated images in American history. Now, commonly known as “A Great Day in Harlem,” the famous photograph of 57 jazz musicians gathered outside a brownstone in New York City is one of the most imitated images in popular culture, by one of the world’s greatest photographers. This visual history of the iconic image includes for the first time, virtually every single frame from the iconic shoot, original text by Art Kane, forewords by Quincy Jones and the legendary Benny Golson, who appears in the photo, and an introduction by Kane’s son, musician and photographer Jonathan Kane.
“I came up with the idea of getting as many musicians together in one place as we could. It would be sort of a graduation photo or class picture of all the jazz musicians. After I thought about it some more I decided they should get together in Harlem. After all, that’s where jazz started when it came to New York,” said Art Kane.
In 1958 fledging photographer Art Kane pitched the idea to Esquire Magazine—invite the musicians of New York’s jazz community to come together for one photo. Esquire agreed and Kane sent requests via agents, record labels, managers, and clubs, anywhere he could spread the word. Saxophonist Benny Golson remembers, “There was going to be an usual shooting of a photograph for Esquire Magazine and I was being invited to be a part of it. I couldn’t believe it! Nobody really knew me that early in my career. But zippo, I was there on the intended date. When I arrived there were all of my heroes.”
Fifty-seven (57) jazz musicians from the unknown… to the world famous duly assembled at the unlikely hour of 10 a.m. at 7 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. The group would include: Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, and Count Basie — whose hat was repeatedly stolen by local kids until Kane surrendered and put them in the shot too.
Esquire Magazine published the photograph in its January 1959 “Golden Age of Jazz” special issue, along with a series of Art Kane’s portraits of other jazz giants including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lester Young and his famous shot of Charlie Parker’s grave. These portraits are included in the book with outtakes and other jazz-related images of gospel groups and a young Aretha Franklin, in addition to on-set photography from the film, “Pete Kelley’s Blues.”
The DuSable Museum’s Celebration of Art Kane: Harlem 1958 will include a Tribute Performance by the Victor Goines Quartet, followed by a discussion with author Jonathan Kane and saxophonist and jazz legend Benny Golson. The discussion will be moderated by NPR Radio Host Richard Steele.
“We’re excited to celebrate the legacy of Art Kane. It’s amazing how one photo taken years 60 years ago has influenced photographers, musicians and educators all over the world,” said Tammy McCann, Curator at Large of American Music for the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Admission to The Celebration of Art Kane: Harlem 1958 is $20 per person. Copies of Art Kane: Harlem 1958 will be available at $58.00 per copy. For more information on this program call 773-947-0600 or visit the website at www.dusablemuseum.org.
The DuSable Museum of African American History is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults ($8 for Chicago residents), $7 for students and senior citizens ($5 for Chicago residents), $3 for children ages 6 through 11 ($2 for Chicago residents), with children 5 years of age and under admitted free. Admission is FREE to everyone on Tuesdays.