29.2 x 20 cm (11 1/2 x 7 7/8 inches) (plate)
Mary B. Jackson Fund
In this sensitive portrait of the openly bisexual jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915–1959), Roy DeCarava explored the textural and atmospheric possibilities of rich, dark grays. His use of photogravure, a technique that produces moody, low-contrast images, lends a soft, almost painterly quality. During the 1950s and 1960s, DeCarava produced a number of images of African American jazz musicians in New York. Interested both in the artistic potential of photography and in candid depictions of black urban life, he created work informed by a deep awareness of African American culture and its complexities.