Marshall in Platinum

Laurie says:

My friend Ctein told me about a remarkable exhibition in San Francisco of the work of Jim Marshall, a truly iconic photographer of musicians. The exhibition at Gallery 291 includes 70 of Marshall’s prints, spanning a number of years. It runs through July 4th weekend.

There are portraits of many major jazz musicians including Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis. I’ve seen and heard many of the musicians that Marshall photographed, which enhanced my sense of the quality of the portraits.

Thelonius Monk by Jim Marshall

{Thelonius Monk by Jim Marshall}

In rock and roll his photographs include Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. It also includes great country singers like Johnny Cash. This begins to sound like a laundry list of famous musicians. It would be easy to get caught up in thinking about who the famous people are in the pictures, but what’s amazing is the quality of art and the images.

The work that impressed me the most was a series of portraits taken in Mississippi and Kentucky in the 60’s. None of the people are famous, and the images are complex and wonderful. They are in the context of documentary social change photography, and while that can be either distancing or condescending–or both–Marshall’s work is neither. Instead, it is powerful, immediate, respectful and beautiful.

These same qualities are present in his portraits of musicians – particularly the jazz portraits.

The exhibition is called Marshall in Platinum. The majority of the prints are platinum prints printed by Chris McCaw. This is a marvelously detailed, tonally subtle form of printing that really enhances Marshall’s work, as do the beautiful color dye transfers printed by Ctein. Dye transfer creates a range of colors and tones that no other form of color printing attains. Both McCaw and Ctein are master printers.

If you’re in the area see Marshall in Platinum.