Smithsonian Collections

Ornette Coleman

Image for Ornette Coleman
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
Born Fort Worth, Texas
For both his musical virtuosity on alto saxophone and his compositions, Ornette Coleman is one of the major forces in American music in the late twentieth century. Like painter Jackson Pollock and writer Walt Whitman, who rejected traditional forms as too constrictive for human expression, Coleman broke with existing jazz diction, creating a raw sound that seemed to deliberately avoid the musical scale in favor of "playing in the cracks." In 1959, Coleman's quartet produced The Shape of Jazz to Come, a musical manifesto that was the aural equivalent of Pollock's abstract expressionism. Coleman disavowed the idea that "free jazz," as his music was called, was pure improvisation, maintaining that careful planning went into each composition. In the 1970s Coleman moved into jazz funk, using electrified instruments. He is still a prolific musician, and his album Sound Grammar won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2007.
Provenance
The artist [1992]; purchased through donor gift NPG 2006
Artist
Frederick J. Brown, 1945 - 2012
Sitter
Ornette Coleman, 9 Mar 1930 - 11 Jun 2015
Date
1992
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Joel and Sherry Mallin and Sebastienne and Bentley Brown
Medium
Oil and charcoal on linen
Dimensions
Stretcher: 121.9 x 101.6cm (48 x 40")
Frame: 124.5 x 105.4 x 7cm (49 x 41 1/2 x 2 3/4")
Type
Painting
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
NPG.2006.112
Topic
Ornette Coleman: Male
Ornette Coleman: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Ornette Coleman: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Saxophonist
Ornette Coleman: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Ornette Coleman: Pulitzer Prize
Portrait
Restrictions & Rights
© 1992, Frederick J. Brown