Galerie Bene Taschen presents the first solo exhibition of work by the photographer William Claxton, who died in 2008. A selection of Silver gelatin prints of, amongst others, John Coltrane, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Clint Weaver will be shown.
William Claxton, born 1927 in Pasadena, California is known for his portraits of famous musicians. He travelled, together with the German musicologist Joachim Berendt, throughout the USA for four months and across 24,000 kilometres in order to photograph jazz as a universally American phenomenon. They journeyed, amongst others, to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, Los Angeles and Kansas City.
However, Claxton did not photograph these jazz legends during their shows or performances. He approached them during rehearsals or while they were taking breaks, as they smoked, talked or waited around. The viewer gets to step behind the scenes of the stage, creating a truly private glimpse into the lives of the people portrayed. In 1998 Claxton and Berendt published a jazz photo book entitled JAZZ LIFE that brings the photographs taken since 1950 together. According to Berendt, the book’s aim was to document the vibrancy of jazz as captured in Claxton’s photographs.
The photographer bridges the gap between music and photography. They both exist through speed and technical sophistication, characterised here by aesthetic photos and vibrant jazz. William Claxton is a master at finding the perfect moment to press the trigger: “For the photographer the camera is like a jazz musician’s ax.”
Selected Public Collections:
The J. Paul Getty Museum, L.A., The Museum of Modern Art, NY The National Museum of American History, Washington D.C. Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA.
April 6 – June 15, 2019
Bene Taschen Gallery