Paris exhibition shows jazz setting beat for visual arts
"A Century of Jazz" at the Quai Branly museum recounts the history of the genre through 1,000 scores, posters, records, magazines as well as photos and paintings from some of the top artists of the 20th century.
Paris -- From Dixieland to Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis, a Paris exhibition opening Tuesday traces how jazz in its 100-year history influenced arts, from painting to film.
Titled "A Century of Jazz," the show running to June 28 at the Quai Branly museum recounts the history of the genre through 1,000 scores, posters, records, magazines, books, film clips and recordings, as well as photos and paintings from some of the top artists of the 20th century.
"The show tells a story," said curator Daniel Soutif. "Jazz was the most striking phenomenon of the 20th century and lasted throughout its entirety while rock for example covered only half of it."
Through the early years of jazz in America and its arrival in Europe after World War I, the era of Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, the exhibition chronicles the history of jazz and its influences until 2002.
Clips include tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in Harlem and Fred Astaire paying a tribute to Robinson on stage.
The word "jazz" first appeared in a San Francisco Chronicle article in 1913 headlined "In Praise of 'Jazz' a Futurist Word Has Joined the Language."
The first official recording using the tag "jazz" on the cover dates back to 1917 and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
"A year later jazz was already everywhere," Soutif told AFP. "And it had social meaning because it was emblematic of the communities who produced the music, including the black community."
The music inspired film-makers from Michelangelo Antonioni to Clint Eastwood and artists from Fernand Leger to Henri Matisse and Bernard Buffet, whose works are on show. Also at the exhibition are 50s record-sleeves by Andy Warhol and more recent works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Wall.
"Jazz affected areas that weren't musical at all," said Soutif. "It was a sort of catalyst, as if it weren't only a musical genre but a state of mind."
In parallel with the exhibition, the museum is organising a series of concerts including US drummer Jack DeJohnette playing with Mauritanian singer Dimi Mint Abbar, and US pianist Randy Weston with Moroccan gnawa masters.
Details at www.quaibranly.fr.