Skip to main content

Jack Mitchell

American, 1925-2013

Over his four-decade career, photographer Jack Mitchell chronicled the changing cultural landscape of mid- to late-20th-century America by capturing the greatest influencers and innovators in the performing and visual arts.

Mitchell, a master of lighting patterns in photography who had his first portrait published at the age of 15, organized more than 5,400 photographic sessions in his lifetime involving a list of sitters that is as astounding as it is long. A veritable roll call of heroes and idols, his studio guests include painters, dancers, actors, comedians, singers, composers, directors, writers, impresarios and anyone else who helped shape the zeitgeist.

During World War II, when he was only 16 years old, Mitchell photographed Veronica Lake for a Daytona newspaper. It was his first celebrity gig, but that didn’t stop the audacious wunderkind from asking the actress to sweep back her signature “peekaboo” locks so he could get her full face in the frame. Lake, who was in Florida to help the war effort and at the peak of her career, politely obliged, and the two later became lifelong friends.

Mitchell, who was openly gay (his long-term partner and manager, Robert Plavik, died in 2009), also struck up a close relationship with Gloria Swanson. From 1960 to 1970, he served as her personal paparazzo, snapping a variety of “candid” shots of the aging but eternally glamorous actress as if she were a pre-mobile/pre-social-media reality star.

The diverse publications in which Mitchell’s work has appeared — in addition to the New York Times, there’s Rolling Stone, Dance Magazine, People, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Time, Harper’s Bazaar and Newsweek — testify to the power of his arresting visual language and its ability to transcend themes and disciplines.

Mitchell also famously shot a series of intimate portraits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in November 1980, just one month before the Beatles singer was assassinated. A picture from this session became the cover of People’s memorial issue, one of the magazine’s best-selling editions to date.

The showbiz gloss should not distract from Mitchell’s meticulous approach to photography. He insisted on producing his own prints in order to achieve what he deemed museum-quality patina and definition.

“Jack shot many rolls of black-and-white film, and always some color transparencies, of every famous person he photographed,” says Craig Highberger, a friend of the late photographer and the executive director of the Jack Mitchell Archives.

In the world of dance, the field for which Mitchell is best known, his striking and incisive shots of legendary performers and choreographers reflect the visceral energy that these luminaries introduced to the discipline in the 1960s and ’70s, widely considered the Golden Age of American dance theater.

“Jack’s photographs of dancers during his lifetime are a historic chronicle of an amazing period in dance history. He was Alvin Ailey’s dance company photographer from 1961 to 1994,” says Highberger, noting that Mitchell’s collection of 10,000 black-and-white Ailey prints now belongs to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Mitchell’s dance images are at once ethereal and powerfully dynamic. Not only do they evoke movement through elegant poses and disciplined muscular tension, but they also convey an intimate energy radiating directly from his subjects, as if he had magically unlocked a reflective mood or a character trait, without contrivance.

The collection of authentic Jack Mitchell photography on 1stDibs includes his black and white photography, color photography, nude photography and more.

Average Sold Price
$1,142
Styles
Materials
Operatic Soprano Leontyne Price, 17 x 22" Exhibition Photograph
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
This photograph of famed operatic soprano Leontyne Price was taken in 1980 during an album cover session. One of Mitchell's most beautiful color photographs. This exhibition print is...
Category

1980s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Archival Pigment

NYC Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan 'Swan Lake', signed by Jack Mitchell
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
11 x 14" vintage silver gelatin photograph of New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan photographed in February 1993 performing 'Swan Lake'. Signed on the print recto and v...
Category

1990s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Colm Wilkenson, Terrance Mann in "Les Miserables" on Broadway signed by Mitchell
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
11 x 14" vintage silver gelatin photograph of Colm Wilkenson, Terrance Mann in "Les Miserables" on Broadway, 1987. Signed by Jack Mitchell on the print verso. Comes directly from the...
Category

1960s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Dance Theatre of Harlem Principal Dancers
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
11 x 14" vintage silver gelatin photograph of Dance Theatre of Harlem principal dancers, photographed in New York City, 1975. Comes directly from the Jack Mitchell Archives with a ce...
Category

1970s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Andy Warhol & Jane Forth Buying Cosmetics in a New York City Drug Store
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
8 x 10" vintage silver gelatin photograph of Andy Warhol & Jane Forth Buying Cosmetics in a New York City Drug Store, 1970. This is a print that was published by After Dark Magazine ...
Category

1960s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini feature article shot for 'After Dark' magazine
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini star of 'Seven Beauties', iconic portrait for 'After Dark' magazine feature article in 1976. This is a vintage gelatin silver print, made by hand by ...
Category

1970s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Warhol Superstar Holly Woodlawn with Nik, signed by Jack Mitchell
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
11 x 14" vintage silver gelatin photograph of Warhol Superstar Holly Woodlawn photographed with Mitchell's cat 'Nik' in 1970. Signed by Jack Mitchell on the verso. Comes directly fr...
Category

1970s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Broadway Dancer, Singer & Actress Ann Reinking, Photographed for Dance Magazine
By Jack Mitchell
Located in Senoia, GA
11 x 14" vintage silver gelatin photograph of dancer and Broadway star Ann Reinking, photographed for Dance Magazine December 7, 1981. Comes directly from the Jack Mitchell Archives...
Category

1980s Pop Art Jack Mitchell

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Browse all Art from Jack Mitchell
Shop Now

Galleries Featuring Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Jack Mitchell art for sale. If you are looking for art to add a pop of color to a neutral corner of your living room or bedroom, you can find work that includes elements of purple, blue, yellow and other colors. You can also browse by medium to find art by Jack Mitchell in archival pigment print, silver gelatin print, pigment print and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th Century and is mostly associated with the Pop Art style. Not every interior allows for large Jack Mitchell art, so small editions measuring 8 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Fernando Natalici, Bunny Yeager and Nicholas Taylor. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at US$400 and tops out at US$3,400, while the average work can sell for US$1,763.

Recently Viewed

View More