back bounded-next cafe calendar-large calendar cart close coat-check collapse donate download elevators expand explore filter grid-view hamburger heart hours join link list-view location mail more next nursing-room phone print programs ramp restrooms right-arrow search share shop thumbs-down thumbs-up tickets up toilet heart-filled zoom Skip to Content

Coltrane on Soprano


Search and Share Tools

Coltrane on Soprano

Artwork Details


Roy DeCarava
American, 1919–2009




Gelatin silver print

Accession #



Please contact the Museum for more information.


Currently Not on View


Whether photographing the street life of Harlem, the civil rights movement, or jazz musicians, Roy DeCarava imbues his subjects with a subtle grace that is distinctly his own. Jazz musicians and performances were the focus of the Harlem-based photographer’s work for many years. This portrait of John Coltrane typifies the discerning use of light and shadow that is the hallmark of DeCarava’s work; Coltrane seems to burst from the shadow that nearly envelops him. DeCarava’s long exposure captures the great saxophone player in a kinetic moment, conveying the energy of the music he loves. His portraits of such luminaries as Billie Holiday, Lester Young, and Duke Ellington convey the sense of soulfulness and spontaneity that he believed came from “pure experience.”


Purchase with funds from the H. B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust

Image Copyright

© Roy DeCarava, 1996