BootLeg Betty

Kenn Duncan Retrospective at NYPL July 30 – October 25 (Free)

Broadway World
July 17, 2008
New York, Ny

Mister D: For those living or visiting New York, this retrospective might be interesting to check out…and it’s FREE!!!!!!

Photographs of an effervescent Bette Midler twirling barefoot in a summer dress, a sensual Alexander Gudonov staring intently into the camera, a youthful Diane Keaton with the cast of Hair, and an ethereal portrait of transgender Andy Warhol superstar Candy Darling wrapped in furs are all part of a comprehensive exhibition featuring materials from the archive of renowned portrait and fashion photographer Kenn Duncan. Focus on the 70s: The Fabulous Photography of Kenn Duncan is on display in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, from July 30, 2008 through October 25, 2008. Admission is free.

This retrospective of Duncan’s 20-year career features approximately 400 photographs and includes his iconic images of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Eartha Kitt, Angela Lansbury, Peter Martins, Bette Midler, the cast of Hair, as well as selections of his nudes, his fashion portfolios, and his work with hundreds of celebrities including shock rock legend Alice Cooper, Al Pacino, and Christopher Walken.

“Kenn Duncan’s camera captured the decade of the carefree 70s. It’s been said that if you remember the 70s, then you weren’t really there and, yes, the decadence did seem pervasive. But through Kenn Duncan’s lens, everything was beautiful,” says Bob Taylor, curator of the Billy Rose Theatre Division. “And through his photographs, as this exhibition shows, he captured the supreme artists of the 1970s: the actors, dancers, choreographers, fashion designers and their models, the shows of Broadway and Off-Broadway, the musicians and singers both pop and classical – all the beautiful people. And the exhibition features what Duncan is perhaps best remembered for: his nudes.”

Kenn Duncan, whose assortment of subjects speak to his acute curiosity about the human form both in action and in repose, was a prominent force in the photography world of the late 1960s through the early 1980s. He worked as a principal photographer for the entertainment magazine After Dark and for Dance Magazine, which chronicles the world of dance. Duncan’s photographs also regularly appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Time, and Newsweek.of In addition, he photographed a score of Broadway shows, including Hair, Applause, The Elephant Man, and Sophisticated Ladies, and published three volumes his photographs: Red Shoes, Nudes, and More Nudes.

His gift for capturing the idiosyncrasies and dynamism of each of his subjects made him an obvious choice to photograph such celebrated performers as Peter Allen, Carol Channing, Judith Jamison, Eartha Kitt, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Plummer, Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune and Twiggy, and for leading dance companies such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Kenn Duncan’s complete archive was acquired by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in 2003 and is held jointly by the Billy Rose Theatre Division and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. The exhibition includes selections of Duncan’s studio work, his stage production shots, commercial fashion photography, posters, and silk screens as well as, surprisingly, his delightful work with children.

Kenn Duncan (1928-1986) was born in New Jersey and became a roller-skating champion at an early age. In order to perfect his form, he took ballet lessons and eventually abandoned skating for a dance career. The injury that put an end to his dancing career set him on a new course that eventually won him international acclaim as a portrait and fashion photographer. He was the recipient of such recognition as a National Endowment for the Arts grant and the International Brotherhood and Peace Award.

Kenn Duncan is represented in the collections of major museums and libraries around the world, including The Brooklyn Museum, the Chicago Historical Society, the Dance Library of Israel, the Harvard Libraries, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography, the Parsons School of Design, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses the world’s most extensive combination of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. Its divisions are the Circulating Collections, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, Music Division, Billy Rose Theatre Division, and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound. The materials in its collections are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts, whether professional or amateur, the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters, and photographs.

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