Artists recreate 1958 photograph of Harlem jazz musicians

The London-based Black Cultural Archives organized the photo to mark the 40th anniversary since the British Black arts movement launched in 1982.

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An iconic 1958 photograph of Black artists in Harlem will be recreated with emerging Black artists in London to commemorate Black History Month, observed in the United Kingdom during the month of October.

As reported by The Guardian, the tribute photograph will feature up-and-coming Black talent in the British art scene, alongside veteran Black artists. The 1958 photograph of New York’s thriving jazz scene, A Great Day in Harlem, was taken by Art Kane.

Jazz performer at a club (Adobe Stock)

The London-based Black Cultural Archives organized the photo to mark the 40th anniversary since the British Black arts movement launched in 1982, inspired by the National Black Art Convention, per the outlet.

The original image features 57 jazz musicians — including Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, Lester Young, Count Basie and Gerry Mulligan — gathered on a residential stairset in Harlem between Fifth and Madison Avenues, according to the report.

Lisa Anderson, managing director for the Black Cultural Archives, said the objective of recreating the photograph is to “document the community.”

“I want to celebrate the community, and want there to be a sense of the importance of being documented through photography,” Anderson told The Guardian. “We wanted to enrich the archive, in particular the way the archive represents the history of some of the pioneering and emerging art makers from the Black community.”

She added that the idea was adopted from a tribute photograph called A Great Day in London, organized in 2021 by U.K. jazz organization Tomorrow’s Warriors. The upcoming photo instead will feature visual artists, which Anderson said will fill a gap in important documentation.

Art Kane’s A Great Day in Harlem photograph features 57 jazz musicians gathered on a residential stairset in Harlem between Fifth and Madison Avenues. (Screenshot: YouTube – Aeolus 13 Umbra)

“We’re borrowing the concept because we haven’t seen any photograph which documents Black British visual artists, and I think it will create an aid for people to go and do further research and engagement with its history, and to also inspire people to pursue their passion for visual art,” Anderson told the outlet.

The new image will be captured by British Black photographer Charlie Phillips, regarded among the UK’s greatest photographers, according to The Guardian

“There’s a missing gap in our history, because not a lot has been documented by us, for us,” Phillips told the outlet.

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