ART OF JAZZ: FORM/PERFORMANCE/NOTES EXPLORES INTERSECTION OF VISUAL ARTS AND JAZZ, AS WELL AS JAZZ MUSIC’S INTERNATIONAL EMBRACE
Curated by David Bindman, Suzanne Preston Blier, and Vera Ingrid Grant.
An alliance with Harvard Art Museums, private collectors, acclaimed New York art galleries and the Studio Museum in Harlem yields more than 70 items in two Cambridge locations.
The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art will present the illuminating, three-part exhibition “Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes.” The exhibition, held in conjunction with the Harvard Art Museums, private collectors, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and two Manhattan galleries—DC Moore Gallery and Luhring Augustine Gallery—explores the intersection of jazz music and the visual arts. Through more than 70 pieces ranging from early Jazz Age objects and mid-century jazz ephemera to contemporary works by established African American artists, “Art of Jazz” traces the beginnings of jazz in visual culture and how it was embraced internationally as an art form, a social movement, and a musical iconography for Black expression.
“Art of Jazz” runs February 3 through May 8, 2016 in two locations: part one (“Form”) is at the Harvard Art Museums in the University Teaching Gallery; parts two and three (“Performance” and “Notes”) are on display at the Cooper Gallery in Harvard Square.
“Form” and “Performance” are curated by Harvard University art historians Suzanne Preston Blier and David Bindman. “Form” is a collection of drawings, prints and other artworks; “Performance” is an assortment of books, album covers, and other ephemera. Together they feature visual works by Romare Bearden, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock; writings by Langston Hughes and musician W.C. Handy (known as “the Father of the Blues”); photographs by Hugh Bell and Carl Van Vechten of legends like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Dizzy Gillespie and Lena Horne; a portrait of James Baldwin by modernist painter Beauford Delaney; and more. "Performance" includes a sound installation accompanying an exhibition of artist-designed album covers.
“Notes,” curated by Cooper Gallery Director Vera Grant, unfolds through five of Cooper’s main galleries, responding to the other two pieces of the exhibition with contemporary art that
illustrates how late 20th- and 21st-century artists view and engage with jazz. It showcases works by painters, sculptors, musicians and more, including award-winning jazz pianist Jason Moran (who contributes a music-based installation in tribute to jazz legends and the clubs where they played), conceptual painter Lina Viktor, installation artist Whitfield Lovell, collage artist Cullen Washington, photographer Ming Smith, and sculptor/photographer/clothing designer Christopher Myers.
“We wanted the three components in the ‘Art of Jazz’ exhibition to reflect the idea of ‘call-and-response’—the spontaneous interaction between musicians that’s a basic foundation of jazz music. ‘Notes’ is the response to the call of ‘Performance’ and ‘Form,’” said Grant. “We also wanted to show jazz’s global influence on visual culture, expanding the trope that the art form reached international acclaim through American soldiers who transported it to Europe during World War I. Jazz as we know it is a vibrant art form, transcending medium divides and categorical boundaries around the world.”
Harvard Art Museums, INDEX: "Variations on a Theme"
The Root: "10 Female Artists of Color on the Rise"
Harvard Gazette: "Jazz Made Visible"
Art New England: "Blue Notes and Whole-Tones: Reviewing Jazz at the Cooper Gallery"
The Boston Globe: "Harvard Show Looks at Art in the Key of Jazz"
Harvard Magazine: "Art of Jazz," A Multivocal Exhibit"
Wicked Local Cambridge: "Five Upcoming Exhibits to Visit in Cambridge"
Luhring Augustine: "Jason Moran in " Art of Jazz: Form / Performance / Notes"