Scope and arrangement
Over 600,000 items are estimated to be in the collection that represents the whole of Duncan's work as a photographer. These include photographs, contact prints, negatives, slides, and oversized posters and prints as well as memos, programs, clippings, contracts, exhibition records, financial records, appointment books and a program from Duncan's memorial service.
The images are in both black and white and color. These items document Duncan's work with Broadway shows, dance companies, individual performers and celebrities in addition to his work for commercial clients such as After Darkmagazine. The images cover a range of subjects. They can be documentation of a rehearsal or performance in the form of production shots, or studio shoots done for promotional purposes, experimentation or sheer playfulness. The subjects of works such as Red Shoes and Nudes revolve around one particular theme: personalities posing in various guises of red footwear and the nude body, particularly male, in various poses. The collection also contains images taken for projects that were not completed by the time of Duncan's death, such as Broadway Buns and various calendars.
Duncan's commercial work is also well represented with documentation of his work for After Dark, the BMB Calendar, the National Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association, and his fashion photography. There is also a series organized around his photography of various locations and events throughout the world. The oversized material series includes posters featuring Duncan's work, large photographic prints, and a few hand drawn sketches given to Duncan; grouping within the series reflects the overall organization of the archive.
PLEASE NOTE: There are numerous photographs of nude individuals in the collection, both male and female, although the majority are of male nudes; these images can be found not only in the Nudes series but also scattered throughout other series.
The Kenn Duncan photograph archive is arranged in fifteen series:
- 1968-198554 boxes
This series includes slides, prints, contact sheets and negatives for theatrical productions photographed by Kenn Duncan. Occasionally there are also included programs and clippings from the production.
- 1967-198687 boxes
Photographs of the famous and not-so-famous, with prints, contact sheets, slides, and some negatives included. Portraits were shot in studio unless otherwise noted. Some subjects were listed by Duncan with first name only.
- 1968-198649 boxes
This series includes prints, contact sheets, negatives and slides of dancers. Occasionally there are also included programs, clippings, notes, invoices and flyers. Most images are in a studio setting, and the dance work is listed when known.
- 1965, 1970-198632 boxes
Primarily includes prints, contact sheets, and slides of mostly American dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, Houston Ballet and its school, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Saeko Ichinoke and Company.
- 1975-19845 boxes
Images from the worlds of gymnastics and ice skating including individuals Wendy Hilliard, Toby Towson, Robin Cousins, John Curry, Allan Schram, and Michael Tokar, and groups including the United States gymnast team and the Ice Capades.
- 1978-198413 boxes
Images taken by Kenn Duncan for his book Red Shoes, published by Universe Books, 1984. For publication, see call number *MGRZ 87-4898.
- 1982-19856 boxes
Duncan's images for his planned book Broadway Buns : A View of the Theatre from Behind. The photographer's filing system has been maintained. Drafts of the accompanying text may be found in Series XIII Professional Papers; Subseries - Publications.
- 1969-1983 and undated7 boxes
This series includes 8" x 10" prints, contact sheets, negatives and slides. Occasionally there are included notes and invoices. Most images are in a studio setting. Several folders of unidentified nude shots (8" x 10") are included at the end of the series in Box 8-6 and Box 8-7. See also Series XI Oversized Material for additional nude photographic prints.
- 1964-1986 and undated39 boxes
Duncan's major clients represented here include After Dark magazine (1968-1981), fashion designers Norman Norell and Yves St. Laurent, Van Heusen Creative Design Group, National Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association, Consolidated Millinery, additional fashion designers and hairdressers, and multiple advertising, modeling and talent agencies. The photographer's filing and labeling systems have been maintained.
The After Darkfolders contain photos filed by location with additional images filed chronologically. Many After Darklocation shots are filed in both Series IX Clients and Series X Locations.
- 1969-19858 boxes
Duncan traveled the world with his camera, sometimes placing friends and acquaintances in his location shots. The events portrayed here are holidays, circuses, rodeos, parades, and the 1969 Tony Awards.
Anomalies such as "Joan Crawford's wardrobe" or "Plumbers" are included in this Series as they were filed with "Locations and Events" by Duncan and his staff.
- 1966-1986 and undated66 boxes + 37 folders
Includes large photographs, posters featuring Duncan's work, mounted photographic prints, silkscreen prints, and a few hand drawn sketches given to Duncan.
Closed to the public.
- 1968-198614 boxes
Duncan's records include business correspondence, contracts and schedules, as well as extensive samples of his published work. Jan Frazier worked as his assistant in the 1980's, maintaining his professional records.
Major clients represented within these records include: After Dark magazine and The National Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association (NHCA).
- 1952-1986 and undated2 boxes
Duncan's personal papers consist primarily of photographs. Also included are greeting cards, membership information, legal records, medical records and papers regarding Duncan's memorial service held on September 7, 1986 in New York City.
- 1962-1974, 1980-1983 and undated10 boxes
These black and white contact prints were labeled "Miscellaneous," and stored by Duncan in vertical files. Most of them were filed by date and were shot in studio, with only a few outdoor location settings.