© Philippe Halsman, ca. 1951, Portrait of Marc Chagall

This one is, again, especially for Monsieur Chagalov. Thanks for your help!

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” (Marc Chagall)

UPDATE JUL. 7, 2012:
On July 7th, 1887, 125 years ago, Marc Chagall was born. In “Chagall: A Retrospective,” a book of excerpted writings about him, a passage from Virginia Haggard’s “Life With Chagall” (1960) quotes him as telling a young artist:

“The older you grow, the less spontaneous you will be. A child paints with passionate intensity, that’s the quality you must preserve.” (Marc Chagall)

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was a fascinating and protean figure, one of the 20th century’s most unlikely self-made masters. He was not only a pioneer of modernism but also a great figurative artist. He scraped his way through intense and trying historical times: the Russian Revolution and two world wars. Hitler found his art degenerate, and he was lucky to survive that fact. He and his family were smuggled out of occupied France in 1941 with days to spare.

Chagall lived long enough — too long probably — to see his reputation swing wildly, from avant-garde champion in revolutionary Russia to much-mocked promulgator of ethnic kitsch, the man who accidentally supplied the iconography for “Fiddler on the Roof.” In the early 1950s the always-quotable Picasso put it pretty well about Chagall’s strengths and weaknesses: “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” Picasso said he was not crazy about the “flying violins and all the folklore, but his canvases are really painted, not just thrown together.” He added: “There’s never been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has.” (read more)

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Quiz question #5 (see previous post):

Who is this beautiful lady with the trumpet?


As I said: it’s not the easiest question. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Google has this useful image search function that helps you find other online “copies” of a picture you’re trying to get more information on.

Normally, this is a nice function for researching, but what happens if there is so much false information on the internet that it suddenly becomes truth? Well, that is exactly what happened with this photograph.

Let’s see what Google comes up with:

Suggestion number 1: “Billie Holiday” (which is WRONG):

When I first saw this photo on atane’s blog I read “Billie Holiday, looking adorable”. As my attention span still hasn’t reached the 21st century, I started to read the rest of the paragraph:

“(…) this is how wikipedia scholars and google image searchers unknowingly spread incorrect information. Someone posts incorrect info, then it gets shared until the incorrect information becomes the “truth”, and no one will know because if you google it, the incorrect info is what you will find. If you do a google image search for Billie Holiday, this image comes up. (…) The picture was taken in 1960. Aside from the fact that there is virtually no resemblance between the two women, Billie Holiday would have been 45 in 1960. The woman in the picture is clearly not in her mid 40s. One other thing, Billie Holiday died in 1959. Kind of hard to pose for a pic after you’re dead.”

I couldn’t find any trustworthy information about the exact date, but judging by the cars in the background it must be a shot from around 1960.

Suggestion number 2: Valaida Snow (also WRONG):

Similar reasons as before: Valaida Snow was born in 1904 and would have been in her mid 50s at the time this picture was taken - and she died in 1956. No possible way that she’s the woman in this photo (sorry cellulodroid, the picture on your wall was wrong).

Suggestion number 3: Lorraine Glover (RIGHT or WRONG?)

Some websites say the picture shows Donald Byrd’s wife, Lorraine Glover.

Suggestion number 4: Yourna Bird (RIGHT or WRONG?)

Other sources also claim this person to be Donald Byrd’s wife, but the name “Yourna Bird” is used there.

“ (…) the lady in the picture holding Dr. Byrd’s trumpet is his wife, but her name is Yourna. I spoke with her 3 days ago, and she is still strikingly beautiful! She remembers taking the photo. I’m puzzled as to why the photographer William Claxton credited the young lady in the picture as Lorraine Glover.” (source)

Gwranda came up with both names, let’s see if he was right! If somebody has links to reliable biographical information about Donald Byrd I would be very thankful!

Even my friend & top researcher chagalov wasn’t able to find reliable information about the person in the picture or the photographer’s name. The moral of the story? Question everything, especially online information!

Like chagalov, I tried to check William Claxtons website (as we found out that this picture is part of his book Jazz Seen). The problem is: if you follow Google’s link to his website, the page won’t load because of some Flash problem. However, if you follow this link, you can access it. But: there’s no information about our photo on there. Another impasse.

Some web sources also say this is Billie Holiday shot by Herman Leonard, more false information: Leonard has photographed many jazz celebrities and also took some great shots of Billie Holiday (check out some of his photos here), but not this one.
I can tell you that the photo above was taken by William Claxton and is featured in his book Jazz Seen - and that’s the only 100% reliable information I got for you today. I ordered a second hand version of the book and will publish the final answer for photo quiz #5 as soon as it has arrived.

I hope you enjoyed this tricky question, I’ll keep you updated! All the best, B

UPDATE / Apr. 16, 2012:
William Claxton’s book Jazz Seen didn’t give me the answer either - the caption just says: “Mrs. Donald Byrd, 48th Street, New York City, 1960.” Anyways, I’m so glad that I can call the book my own: it’s one of the best photography books in my collection!

My friend chagalov found some information on Donald Byrd’s marriage with Lorraine Glover in The Billboard magazine (Oct. 22, 1955):

He also provided me with some more background information on Donald Byrd & Yourna:

University of Delaware / dated: May, 2000; excerpt:
“UD gallery to feature works from the collection of jazz great Donald Byrd (…) A free public reception to honor Byrd and his wife, Yourna, will be held from 5-8 p.m., Friday, June 2 in the University Gallery, located on the second floor of Old College at the corner of Main Street and North College Avenue, Newark.”

NNDB / 2010s; excerpt:
“Donald Byrd. (…) Wife: Yourna.”

In April 1958, Donald Byrd (Pepper Adams Quintet) recorded the song “Yourna” (sources: +, +, +; you can listen to a preview here).

As Donald Byrd and Yourna were still married in 2000, chagalov and I both think that maybe Lorraine Glover and Yourna Byrd are the same person - Yourna may just be a pseudonym or nickname.
Or was Yourna his second wife? Did a lovestoned Donald Byrd record a track for a woman he fell in love with 3 years after he had married Lorraine Glover?

As chagalov said: “The final proof will be to ask him or her directly I guess!”
Ok Mr. and Mrs. Byrd (#1 and #2?), please give me a call :)

>> find more photo quiz questions here <<


The original image was Robert Frank’s photograph “City Fathers (Hoboken, 1955)” of the famous “The Americans” series. Congratulations to firsttimeuser & chagalov for coming up with the right answer!

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The protagonists of this famous photograph have been airbrushed away, leaving only the background (& some other detail) of the original image. Can you recognize this famous shot?
(see Photo Quiz #6)

Find out more about the project “Less Américains” by London-based artist Mishka Henner on TIME LightBox.

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Henner takes his humorous title from the French Edition of Frank’s book “Les Américains”, published in 1958 by Robert Delpire in Paris. By scanning and applying Photoshop to Frank’s images, Henner has proceeded to remove most of the vital subject matter from all 83 photographs—leaving only small details hovering around the frame like background props on an empty theater stage.

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