Art Kane (born Arthur Kanofsky; April 9, 1925 – February 3, 1995) was an American fashion and music photographer active from the 1950s through the early 1990s. He created many portraits of contemporary musicians, including Bob Dylan, Sonny and Cher, Aretha Franklin, Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, and The Who.
Kane was born in New York City to Russian Jewish parents. During the second World War, he served in an unusual deception unit known as The Ghost Army, an incubator for many young artists. At age 26 he became the art director for Seventeen magazine, one of the youngest art directors of a major publication. He began to explore his passion for photography, eventually studying under the legendary Alexey Brodovitch. In 1958, he got an assignment that would launch his career as a photographer, when he assembled 57 jazz musicians for Esquire magazine in 1958 in Harlem. Eventually, the Esquire photograph would become the basis for a documentary, A Great Day in Harlem.
His work was provocative, experimental, and playful, sometimes rejected by magazines for nudity or irreverence. Kane said of his portraiture: "You have to own people...grab them, twist them into what you want to say about them." He was quoted in the book The Nikon Image as saying: "I've always considered myself an illustrator, a literate photographer interested in producing images that reflect the essence of an idea...I wanted to interpret the human scene rather than simply record it."
Art Kane is credited in the book Stainless Steel Illusion for the photograph of John DeLorean with the DeLorean sports car that was the basis for the only magazine advertisement ever created by DeLorean Motor Company. In 1989, the Art Kane Photo Workshops were created in Cape May, New Jersey. They were week-long workshops with notable photographers.
In 1995, Kane, 69, committed suicide. He is survived by three sons, Nikolas Kane, Anthony Kane, and Jonathan Kane, the original drummer of Swans and for Rhys Chatham, La Monte Young, and Jonathan Kane's February.
- "Art Kane", Art Director's Club.
- "Art Kane, 69, Photographer Of Jazz Stars", The New York Times, February 24, 1995.
- Homepage of the Art Kane estate
- The official A Great Day In Harlem film website
- Art Directors Club biography, portrait, and images of Kane's work
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