American photographer Jack Mitchell (1925-2013) was renowned for his captivating photographs of visual artists, film and theater personalities, musicians, and writers, which he documented during a remarkable career that spanned over five decades. In addition to 25 years of special assignment work for The New York Times, Mitchell’s photographs of creative and performing artists have graced the covers and pages of Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Newsweek, People, Rolling Stone, Time, Vanity Fair, and Vogue, among others.
Mitchell was both a portraitist and a capturer of complex motion. An expert in lighting, he worked mostly, though not entirely, in black and white, and was known — by his subjects, by the magazine and newspaper editors he worked for, and by critics — as someone who could make a photograph reveal character.
A passionate lover of dance, Mitchell was the official photographer for the American Ballet Theater, and he chronicled the work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for decades. Posing dancers, encouraging them to leap, to stretch, and to point their feet, resulted in images that epitomize the joyful physicality of dance. Mitchell photographed legendary dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison over many years. “He pulled the uniqueness out of you regardless of whether you wanted it pulled out of you or not,” she has observed. “I look at myself growing up in his pictures.
This exhibition features approximately 50 silver gelatin and color photographs of important American visual, musical, and literary artists taken by Jack Mitchell over a career spanning five decades. Mitchell died in 2013 at age 88. Exhibition highlights include director-screenwriter Alfred Hitchcock, singer-songwriter Carly Simon, playwright Tennessee Williams, composer Philip Glass, singer Bette Midler, and artists Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Louise Nevelson and Keith Haring, among others. The works were hand-selected by the Museum from the Jack Mitchell Archives. Organized by HMA.