Artist - Carl Van Vechten

Photography Collection

(click an image to view a larger image and photograph details)


  Marian_Anderson Lena_Horne Langston_Hughes
Marian Anderson Lena Horne Langston Hughes
Matisse   Joan_Miro okeefe
Henri Matisse Joan Miro Georgia O'Keeffe
Horace_Pippen   Diego_Rivera Gertrude_Stein
Horace Pippen Diego Rivera Gertrude Stein
Orson Welles    

Carl Van Vechten


Photography Collection

Gelatin Silver Prints


Born in Cedar Rapids, Carl Van Vechten developed an interest in music and theater at an early age.  He left Iowa in 1899 to attend the University of Chicago.  There he was able to explore art, music, and opera, and he became interested in writing, contributing to the University of Chicago Weekly.  When he moved to New York in 1906, he was hired as the assistant music critic at the New York Times.  He eventually became the first American critic of modern dance at the New York Times, in a period when Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, and Loie Fuller were performing in New York.  He left his newspaper position in 1914 but continued to write, publishing several collections of essays relating to music and ballet.  His first novel, Peter Whiffle, was published in 1922.  During the 1920s, Van Vechten became very interested in promoting black artists and writers.  Eventually, he would photograph many of the creative forces of the Harlem Renaissance.  In the early 1930s, after being introduced to the 35mm Leica camera, Van Vechten began to photograph his large circle of famous friends and acquaintances, including such subjects as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, Bessie Smith, and Gertrude Stein, usually bust- or half-length in front of backdrops.  Van Vechten remained active, writing and photographing, until his death in 1964.

The District collection includes more than 200 photographs taken by Van Vechten.