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 Tom Hannan  (1927 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: New York/Vermont/Michigan      Known for: abstract painting, music album cover designs and photography

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Tom  Hannan
An example of work by Tom Hannan
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Tom Hannan: Paintings and Jazz Album Covers Exhibit - September 19 through October 31

Published: 2011-09-15

"TOM HANNAN: Paintings and Jazz Album Covers," the first-ever exhibition featuring Tom Hannan's abstract canvases and graphic design work, will be on view at All Souls Church, 29 South Street in West Brattleboro, Vermont, from September 19 through the end of October.

Tom Hannan (1927-2000) studied painting at The Hans Hofmann School in 1950-53. While he exhibited his paintings at the artist-run James Gallery in New York City, he became a jazz aficionado and designed album covers for the jazz record labels Prestige, Columbia, Blue Note, Bethlehem, Jubilee and Roulette, among others. Hannan's designs incorporated his own paintings, drawings, typographical arrangements, and photographs of musicians taken at the Rudy van Gelder recording studio in Hackensack, N.J. He also collaborated with the experimental photographer Scott Hyde and with illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Hannan's cover designs, along with those of his peers Reid Miles and John Hermansader, have been published in several anthologies devoted to jazz album cover art.

Tom set up a graphic design studio in Guilford, Vermont, after he and his wife Alison bought a house there in 1959. To deliver work on tight deadlines to clients in New York, Hannan would drive two miles down Packer Corners Road to meet a UPS truck on its morning trip north along Weatherhead Hollow Road, destination Brattleboro, and pick up a package containing components for an album cover paste-up. He immediately returned to his studio to finish the paste-up in time to make a second trip down the hill that afternoon to meet the UPS truck on its way back to New York.

Musician members of the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro honored Tom Hannan with a performance during a memorial gathering at the Hannan home in 2001.

The exhibition at All Souls Church was curated by Pamela Seymour Smith Sharp, niece of Tom and Alison Hannan, and will include several of Hannan's abstract paintings and a selection of his iconic jazz album cover designs from the 1950s and '60s.

The article is also by Pamela Seymour Smith Sharp.


Biography from Betty Krulik Fine Art Limited:
Tom Hannan was a painter, photographer and graphic designer in New York City during the 1950s and 60s. He came to New York from Detroit in 1950 on a scholarship to the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts where he studied and was a Hofmann studio assistant from 1950-53. Tom Hannan married Alison Smith of New York in 1954.

Hannan was an original member of the James Gallery, an artist-run cooperative gallery at 70 East 12th Street founded in 1954 by students of Hans Hofmann. Solo exhibitions of his paintings were held at the James Gallery in 1954 and 1955. Other solo exhibitions of Hannan's work were held at the New Gallery, Provincetown, Mass. (1960-1961), and Long Island University (1966).

Hannan met Robert Weinstock in 1956 and started designing jazz album covers for Prestige records. He attended studio sessions at Rudy van Gelder’s Hackensack, N.J. recording studio bringing along his own camera to photograph jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Ossie Davis, among others, during recording sessions. His photograph of Sonny Rollins appears on the cover of Saxophone Colossus (1956, Prestige).

During the 1950s, Hannan designed numerous jazz album covers for the Prestige, Blue Note, Columbia, Roulette and Jubilee record labels. He often incorporated his own photographs and paintings into his designs. He also collaborated with the experimental photographer Scott Hyde and with illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Hannan's cover designs, along with those of his peers Reid Miles and John Hermansader, have been published in several anthologies devoted to jazz album cover art.


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