Billie Holliday, photographed by Herman Leonard, 1949
Billie Holliday, photographed by Herman Leonard, 1949

Jazz Icons Featured In Kennedy Museum Photo Exhibit

Posted on:

< < Back to

The Kennedy Museum of Art will present Improvisations: Jazz Photographs by Herman Leonard Jan. 17 through May 4, with an opening reception on Friday, Jan. 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Part of the Kennedy’s permanent collection, this exhibition features American photographer Herman Leonard (1923–2010).

The 1947 Ohio University graduate is known for his unique images of jazz icons such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker and many others.

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 OU in 1992, Leonard received the university’s highest alumni award – the Medal of Merit. In 2009, Leonard was the 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. Over 20 years, Leonard developed many friendships with the jazz figures he photographed.

He was a recipient of a number of rewards, such as the Lucie Award of Achievement in Portraiture in 2008, and his photographs are part of the American Musical History Department’s permanent collection in the Smithsonian Institute.

The Kennedy Museum of Art will feature 15 gelatin siver prints from the 63 Leonard works in the Kennedy Museum of Art collection. This exhibition focuses on the jazz scene in New York City, selecting some of the leading jazz figures of that time.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Visit for more information.