Photographer, Visual Artist
1925 – 1995
Who was Art Kane?
Art Kane, born Arthur Kanofsky in New York City, was a fashion and music photographer active from the 1950s through the early 1990s. He created many portraits of contemporary musicians, including Bob Dylan, Sonny and Cher, Aretha Franklin, Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, and The Who.
During the second World War he served in an unusual deception unit known as The Ghost Army, an incubator for many young artists. He became, at age 26, the art director for Seventeen Magazine, one of the youngest art directors of a major publication. He began to explore his passion for photography, eventually studying under the legendary Alexey Brodovitch. In 1958, he got an assignment that would launch his career as a photographer, when he assembled 57 legendary jazz musicians, for Esquire magazine in 1958 in Harlem. Eventually this photograph would became the basis for a documentary, A Great Day in Harlem.
His work was provocative, experimental, and playful, sometimes rejected by magazines for nudity or irreverence. Kane said of his portraiture: "You have to own people...grab them, twist them into what you want to say about them."