COLLAGES CREATED BY LOUIS ARMSTRONG TO BE EXHIBITED
FOR THE FIRST TIME AT ARMSTRONG HOUSE MUSEUM
-- Satchmo’s Artwork on View April 7 - July 12, 2009 --
CORONA, NY, April 2, 2009 – The Louis Armstrong House Museum (34-56 107th Street, Corona, Queens) will open A Little Story of My Own: Louis Armstrong’s Collages on Tuesday, April 7, an exhibit of collages created by the “Father of
Jazz” during the thousands of hours he spent in dressing rooms and hotel rooms during his long career. Only one of the collage boxes has ever been on public view. Because of the fragility of this artwork, the exhibit will stay open only until Sunday, July 12.
| Tape Box 45, back: (L to R) Lucille, Louis, and probably the musician Clarence Williams . Louis has placed onto Williams a "necktie" of Velma Middleton, the vocalist in Louis's band.
Louis Armstrong is internationally renowned as a trumpet player and vocalist (he had hit records for five decades), actor (appearances in more than 30 films), and writer (two autobiographies and thousands of letters). Yet few people know that Armstrong created more than 500 collages, clipped and assembled from photographs, news stories, postcards, letters, telegrams, and other diverse material. Made in part to pass the time, the result was a body of sometimes sophisticated and sometimes whimsical works of art.
“The art of collage is very much like the art of jazz,” said Michael Cogswell, director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum. “Found material is divided and then rearranged to create new meanings. Many of Louis’s collages display multiple layers of meaning which are more intuitive than deliberate.” Armstrong himself acknowledged that his collage-making was like improvising a jazz solo. As he wrote to a friend in 1953, “My hobbie (sic) is to pick out the different things…and piece them together…making a little story of my own.”
A Little Story of My Own provides the public a rare opportunity to view the collages. Except for several that were loaned to a national traveling exhibit sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1990s, Armstrong’s collages have never been exhibited outside of the Louis Armstrong House Museum. In fact, all but one of the collages in this exhibit are on view for the first time.
| Tape Box 67 Front: Telegram from Otis Rene, the co-composer of "When It's Sleepytime Down South," Louis Armstrong's theme song (from the 1930s for the rest of his life).
The exhibit coincides with the release of an art book of Armstrong’s collages, Satchmo: The Wonderful World and Art of Louis Armstrong (New York: Abrams, 2009), and an exhibit of reproductions of Armstrong’s collages at Jazz at Lincoln Center in April.
In 1943 Louis and his wife Lucille purchased a modest frame house in the working-class neighborhood of Corona, Queens. They lived there for the rest of their lives. Thanks to the vision and financial support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, today the house is a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark, administered by Queens College, and visited by people from all over the world.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is open from 10-5, Tuesday through Friday, and from 12-5 on Saturdays and Sundays. The last tour leaves at 4 pm every day. Admission to the museum is $8 and includes a 40-minute guided tour of the historic house, entry to the A Little Story of My Own exhibit, and access to the Armstrongs’ beautiful, Japanese-inspired garden.
For more information and travel directions, visit www.louisarmstronghouse.org .