December 1988 | Volume 39, Issue 8
Duke Ellington is a 1940s American urban Image, flickering with motion, set to steady music, expressed in overlapping patterns that combine, dissolve, and recombine. In cities, loud sound and strong light need a sophisticated order to achieve their best effects. Here bright stripes and checks, rippling hair, and sharp lapels merge with the glitter of bright eyes and teeth to make Ellington’s looks into a version of his incomparable music. And the vivid city gets a distinctive style of dress suggesting all its beat and force with no sacrifice of elegance or warmth.