Legendary Ladies: Kenn Duncan's Glamorous Eye

For almost three decades, Kenn Duncan's photographs energized such seminal New York publications as After Dark, Dance Magazine, and Opera News. Renowned for his ability to capture the distinctive styles and personalities of his subjects, Duncan (1928-1985) gained widespread acclaim for his glamorous studies of the most talented performing artists of the 1970s and 1980s. Through his seemingly ubiquitous lens, he photographed many now-legendary icons of stage and screen, including "” to highlight some of the women only "” Diane Keaton, Natalia Makarova, Bette Midler, Suzanne Farrell, Carmen de Lavallade, Vivian Blaine, Angela Lansbury, Gelsey Kirkland, Sandy Duncan, Carol Channing, Jean Marsh, Lily Tomlin, Edie Adams, Sylvia Miles, and many, many more. A former championship roller-skater and professional dancer, Duncan is particularly celebrated for his unmatchable portraits of the world's greatest dancers. He once offered this advice: "It is only when you have a sensitivity to what is beautiful and what is not that you can begin to photograph."

The Kenn Duncan Archive at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts consists of half-a-million images (give or take) on 35mm color slides, in prints, negatives, color transparencies, posters, silk screens, and some film. Jointly acquired by the Billy Rose Theatre Division and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division in 2003 from the Duncan family, the Archive is an immeasurably rich resource for the study of the performing arts, particularly in New York City, from 1968 through 1985.

Kenn Duncan. Selected portrait photographs from the Kenn Duncan Photograph Archive. Gelatin silver prints, 1969-85.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Billy Rose Theatre Division.

More Images by Kenn Duncan

Related Publication: Divas! The Fabulous Photography of Kenn Duncan

Collection Guide: The Kenn Duncan Photograph Archive

About the Billy Rose Theatre Division

Library Catalog Record