Photography

Van Vechten, Carl (1880 - 1964)

When he arrived in New York, in 1906, Carl Van Vechten became the Times’ music and dance critic, celebrating innovative artists such as Isadora Duncan. When he took up photography, he managed to capture many major personalities of his era from Billie Holiday to Anna May Wong or the artist, Leonor Fini. Although, the American photographer liked to add elaborate backgrounds, he created majestic natural portraits. In 1925, he had the idea of a new project which he called his ‘Negro novel’ and that he presented to Gertrude Stein: ‘This will not be a novel about Negroes in the South or white contacts or lynchings. It will be about NEGROES, as they live now in the new city of Harlem (which is part of New York).’ He had grown interested in the sights and sounds of Harlem that he also observed through the lens of his camera, and wanted to celebrate its inventive music, nightclubs and inhabitants. He chose a controversial title for his novel, Nigger Heaven, as a hint to the slang term for segregated balconies in theaters, as one character explains in the book: ‘Nigger Heaven! That’s what Harlem is. We sit in our places in the gallery of this New York theatre and watch the white world sitting down below in the good seats in the orchestra. Occasionally they turn their faces up towards us, their hard, cruel faces, to laugh or sneer, but they never beckon.’ Although many people urged him to change the title, he didn’t and, by writing about smart, college-educated Afro-Americans who enjoyed cabaret life, Carl Van Vechten turned into the white man who published a pro-Negro book that used the word ‘Nigger’.
 

Tags / Carl Van Vechten - American Photographer - Portrait - Celebrity - Harlem - 1920s - Scandal
Carl van Vechten, Salvador Dali, 1939
Carl van Vechten, Salvador Dali, 1939
Carl van Vechten, John Gielgud, 1938
Carl van Vechten, John Gielgud, 1938
Carl van Vechten, Tallulah Bankhead, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Tallulah Bankhead, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Anaïs Niine, 1940
Carl van Vechten, Anaïs Niine, 1940
Carl van Vechten, Charles Henri Ford, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Charles Henri Ford, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Cab Calloway, 1933
Carl van Vechten, Cab Calloway, 1933
Carl van Vechten, Gala Dali, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Gala Dali, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Marcel Duchamp, 1913
Carl van Vechten, Marcel Duchamp, 1913
Carl van Vechten, Pierre Balmain and Ruth Ford, 1947
Carl van Vechten, Pierre Balmain and Ruth Ford, 1947
Carl van Vechten, Tallulah Bankhead, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Tallulah Bankhead, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Laurence Oliver, 1939
Carl van Vechten, Laurence Oliver, 1939
Carl van Vechten, Salvador Dali, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Salvador Dali, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Salvador Dali, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Salvador Dali, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Leonor Fini, 1936
Carl van Vechten, Leonor Fini, 1936
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Billie Holiday, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Anna May Wong, 1935
Carl van Vechten, Anna May Wong, 1935
Carl van Vechten, Anna May Wong in
Carl van Vechten, Anna May Wong in "Turandot", 1937
Carl van Vechten, Frida Kahlo, 1932
Carl van Vechten, Frida Kahlo, 1932
Carl van Vechten, Leonor Fini, c.1939
Carl van Vechten, Leonor Fini, c.1939
Carl van Vechten, Marlon Brando for
Carl van Vechten, Marlon Brando for "A Streetcar Named Desire", Broadway, 1947
Carl van Vechten, Truman Capote, 1948
Carl van Vechten, Truman Capote, 1948
Carl van Vechten, Paul Robeson, 1940s
Carl van Vechten, Paul Robeson, 1940s
Carl van Vechten, James Stewart, 1934
Carl van Vechten, James Stewart, 1934
Carl van Vechten, Gertrude Stein, 1933
Carl van Vechten, Gertrude Stein, 1933
Carl van Vechten, Ella Fitzgerald, 1940
Carl van Vechten, Ella Fitzgerald, 1940
Carl van Vechten, Langston Hughes, 1942
Carl van Vechten, Langston Hughes, 1942
Carl van Vechten, Joyce Bryant, 1953
Carl van Vechten, Joyce Bryant, 1953
Carl van Vechten, Leontyne Price, 1953
Carl van Vechten, Leontyne Price, 1953
Carl van Vechten, Harry Belafonte, 1954
Carl van Vechten, Harry Belafonte, 1954
Carl van Vechten, James Baldwin, 1955
Carl van Vechten, James Baldwin, 1955
Carl van Vechten, Ethel Waters, 1940
Carl van Vechten, Ethel Waters, 1940
Carl van Vechten, Muriel Rahn, 1944
Carl van Vechten, Muriel Rahn, 1944
Carl van Vechten, James Earl Jones, 1961
Carl van Vechten, James Earl Jones, 1961
Carl van Vechten, Alvin Ailey, 1955
Carl van Vechten, Alvin Ailey, 1955
Carl van Vechten, Orson Welles, 1937
Carl van Vechten, Orson Welles, 1937
Carl van Vechten, Pearl Bailey, 1946
Carl van Vechten, Pearl Bailey, 1946
Carl van Vechten, Frida Kahlo, 1933
Carl van Vechten, Frida Kahlo, 1933
Carl van Vechten, Jane Bowles, 1951
Carl van Vechten, Jane Bowles, 1951
Carl van Vechten, Josephine Baker, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Josephine Baker, 1949
Carl van Vechten, Alexander Calder, 1941
Carl van Vechten, Alexander Calder, 1941
Carl van Vechten, Marlon Brando for
Carl van Vechten, Marlon Brando for "A Streetcar Named Desire", Broadway, 1947
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