The Baker Museum presents
Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., curator
George Gershwin — the legendary composer of An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, The Man I Love, Porgy and Bess and so much more — had a refined musical ear. But audiences are unaware that he also had an eye — as both a collector and a practitioner of art. Gershwin acquired masterpieces by Picasso, Modigliani, Chagall, Kandinsky and other modern masters, and he himself made paintings, drawings and stunning photographs, such as his deeply-felt Self-portrait with Irving Berlin. Many composers throughout history have had synaesthesia — seeing colors when certain musical chords are struck. For the French composer Olivier Messiaen, a certain tone combination would appear to him as “a yellowish orange with a reddish tinge.” Jazz legend Duke Ellington, composer of Mood Indigo and the Black and Tan Fantasy, referred to his band as his palette and his performances as paintings. How does George Gershwin fit into this lineage? In short, how “blue” is the Rhapsody? This talk takes a tour through Gershwin's visual dimension to open up new ways of thinking about the composer and his creative impulses.
This presentation is part of the exhibition George Gershwin and Modern Art.