With nearly 2,000 m2 of exhibition space, The Jazz Century invites the public to see to what extent the soundtrack of jazz has influenced the other arts, of painting, photography, cinema and literature, not forgetting the graphic arts, comic strips and animated cartoons. It offers a multidisciplinary and lively reading of the complex history of this music through ten chronological sections and nearly 1,000 works; objects and documents, illustrated musical scores, posters, records and sleeves, photographs, audiovisuals, etc.
The variety of the numerous documents shown bears witness to the variety of disciplines affected by the Jazz phenomenon: paintings by Léger, Pollock, Dubuffet, Basquiat or Bearden mixed with photographs from Man Ray, Carl Van Vechten, Jeff Wall and lesser known European artists. The exhibition includes copies of the Survey Graphic review, Columbia and Atlantic label covers, comic strips by Loustal and Guido Crepax, Chasing the Blue Train, an installation by David Hammons, nearly 40 sound sources, including the famous Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday, notably revived by Maria Schneider. A room devoted to the cinema presents numerous film extracts, such as Begone Dull Care, an abstract film by Norman Mac Laren, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Lift to the Scaffold) by Louis Malle and even Jammin' the Blues by Gjon Mili (1944) shown in its entirety.
The Jazz Century, shown at the musée du quai Branly offers a new perspective on a section of African American art, a specific aspect of American culture still little known on this side of the Atlantic and which has resulted in numerous artists being shown in the exhibition.
« Jazz has been a kind of substance, a craze which has more or less influenced all the arts, as if it had not only been music but also a state of mind resulting in effects well beyond the music field ».
Daniel Soutif, Curator of the exhibition