Herman Leonard

(Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1923 - 2010, Los Angeles, California)

Miles Davis, Birdland, NYC (hands)

1953 (printed later)

Gelatin silver print

12 7/8 x 18 1/8 in. (32.8 x 46.0 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Gift of George Stephanopoulos


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“I like to photograph images, particularly of well-known people, where you don’t see their face, but the image does express part of their personality,” explained Leonard. Trumpeter Miles Davis, despite his notoriously difficult disposition, was one of Leonard’s favorite subjects and closest friends. “He had that terrible personality that you had to deal with, which is great as a challenge and which I managed to overcome,” recalled Leonard. “Structurally, his face was incredible. He had those definite bones, he had a skin texture like satin that just glowed, his fingers were long and slender, his eyes were intense. All of that put together physically makes a very interesting object, so to speak, to photograph.”

Black and White