Herman Leonard

Herman Leonard

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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'Improvisations: Jazz Photographs by Herman Leonard' opens Jan. 17

From its permanent collection, the Kennedy Museum of Art will present an exhibition featuring the works of American photographer Herman Leonard (1923 – 2010).

The exhibition, "Improvisations: Jazz Photographs by Herman Leonard," will be held at the Kennedy Museum of Art from Jan. 17 through May 4. An opening reception will take place on Friday, Jan. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The exhibition will feature Leonard's 15 gelatin silver prints from the 63 works in the Kennedy Museum of Art collection. The pieces focus on the jazz scene in New York City, capturing some of the leading jazz figures of that time.

Leonard, a 1947 Ohio University graduate, is known for his unique images of jazz icons such as Miles Davis, James Moody, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker.

Born and raised in Allentown, Pa., Leonard decided to attend Ohio University, which at the time was the only university that offered a fine arts degree in photography. Returning to Ohio University in 1992, he received the University’s highest alumni award – the Medal of Merit Award. In 2009, Leonard served as the Undergraduate Commencement speaker and was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.
A world-renowned photographer, Leonard produced a unique record of the jazz scene in New York and Paris from the 1940s through the 1960s. During the 20-year span, he developed many friendships with the jazz figures he photographed. He was a recipient of numerous awards, including the Lucie Award of Achievement in Portraiture in 2008.

Leonard's photographs form a part of the American Musical History Department in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.