Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
April 17, 1995
Library of Congress Acquires William P. Gottlieb Photographs of Jazz Era
The Library of Congress has concluded an agreement to acquire the photographs of the eminent jazz photographer William P. Gottlieb through the generosity of the Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund. The Fund will purchase the complete collection of approximately 1,500 images, including negatives, enlargement prints, and a large number of exhibition prints.
Mr. Gottlieb's photographs, taken between 1938 and 1948, cover one of the richest periods in the history of jazz. During that period, most of the musicians who had established the style of early jazz were still active, together with the leaders of the swing era and the younger musicians who were creating bebop on New York's legendary 52nd Street.
Among the many subjects of Gottlieb's brilliant and incisive portraits are such legendary figures as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Nat "King" Cole, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Willie "the Lion" Smith, Art Tatum, and Lester Young.
Mr. Gottlieb first worked in jazz as a columnist for "The Washington Post", and then later for "Down Beat" Magazine, among other publications. When his employers could not provide a photographer to follow him on assignments, he bought a press camera and, through his own efforts, became a portrait photographer of the first rank.
Exhibitions of Mr. Gottlieb's work have appeared in nearly 100 institutions throughout the world, from the Navio Museum in Osaka, Japan, to the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Sweden. His photographs have appeared in books, magazines and newspapers, as well as on posters and T-shirts. They were also the basis for the portraits of four jazz artists who have appeared on U.S. commemorative postage stamps.
The negatives and original contact prints in the Gottlieb Collection will become part of the Library's Prints and Photographs Division and will be available for general research use in the future. Until the collection is fully processed, access to the collection will be granted on an appointment basis to those engaged in advanced scholarly or biographical research. Written requests should be directed to the Chief, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540- 4840.
A set of reference prints from the William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection will be available for use by scholars in the Music Division within the next two months.
Under the agreement between the Library and Mr. Gottlieb, title to the collection will be transferred to the Library over a period of years; all copyright and other intellectual property rights will be dedicated to the public and will be in the public domain by the year 2010. In the meantime, prints of William Gottlieb's photographs may be obtained for publication and other commercial uses by contacting Mr. Gottlieb directly (11 Market Lane, Great Neck, NY 11020).
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