Thursday, August 19, 2010

R.I.P. - Herman Leonard: the Eyes of Bebop

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I pause this morning to note the death and to celebrate the life and work of Herman Leonard. Any person with anything more than a passing interest in jazz, particularly in the jazz artists of the bebop era, will be familiar with his transcendent photography. Herman Leonard received his undergraduate degree from my employer, Ohio University. I consider him to be among this institution's most illustrious alumni. The Kennedy Museum here featured a retrospective exhibition of his work only months ago, and is also, I believe, the proud holder of a permanent collection.

The New York Times obituary to which you are linked above will provide a glimpse of his great photography, much of which is instantly recognizable. I urge you to check it out.

Thank you, Mr. Leonard. May you rest in the peace of high accomplishment.
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4 comments:

Lynne H. said...

I am not familiar with Mr. Leonard...yet...I always find out about the greats when they pass..thank you for sharing this with us.

Rodak said...

His photography is iconic. When I close my eyes and think of the jazz greats, I am most often picturing them as a Herman Leonard image.

Mad said...

Looking at his work, I think it rather insulting for the NYT writers to reduce his craft to "jazz eye." I'm not as familiar with his work as you, but even just a cursory glance at the prints displayed in the article showed the man had a photographic eye PERIOD. Like my favorite painter, Aaron Douglass, he seemed to have a way of making a "limited" palette---"black and white" photography---more warm and dimensional than a billion technicolor monstrosities foisted upon the viewing public.

I'm taking a photography class for my latest degree this fall, so I will definitely be adding this man to my own extracurricular materials.

Rodak said...

He did, for sure, MS. But he is probably the best known photographer of the jazz scene, ever. Other photographic subjects have been more generally documented by lots of good photographers. He kind of owns jazz.