One of the twentieth-century’s great composers, George Gershwin wrote popular songs with his lyricist brother Ira (1896–1983), sophisticated concert pieces, such as Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), and operas, notably Porgy and Bess (1935).
This portrait was made by the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi soon after the two men had met. Noguchi later described “the problem” of portraiture as “trying to avoid having any opinion whatsoever of the sitter so as to let the image emerge which is as complex and simple as life. . . . Such an ideal situation existed when George Gershwin posed for me.”