Author: Carl Van Vechten
Profile: Carl Van Vechten was an American writer and artistic photographer. He was Gertrude Stein’s literary executor and an underwriter of the Harlem Renaissance. He completed his education at Washington High School and University of Chicago.
He took up photography later in life and took portraits of a number of famous personalities. Even if for most of his adult life, he was married to women, he did indulge in many homosexual affairs during his lifetime. He had well educated parents with his mother having great musical talent and establishing the Cedar Rapids public library while his father was a well known wealthy banker. At a very young age Van developed liking for theatre and music.
He could not easily take up the next steps in life in is unloved town so decided to study at the University of Chicago in 1899 where he learnt opera, art and music. His interest in writing developed in college her he wrote for the University of Chicago weekly, the college newspaper.
After graduating in 1903 from college he took up a job for the Chicago American as columnist and at the same time experimented with photography. He became famous as a notoriety and writer for Nigger Heaven his 1926 novel. He was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States and died in New York, New York, United States. Fania Marinoff and Anna Elizabeth Synder were his two spouses.
Writing style: Carl Van Vechten covered a range of topics through a semi-autobiographical criticism and gossip. He was asked to include photographs with his column while working with the Chicago American.
1915 – Music After the Great War
1916 – Music and Bad Manners
1917 – Interpreters and Interpretations
1918 – The Merry-Go-Round
1918 – The Music of Spain
1919 – In the Garret
1920 – The Tiger in the House
1921 – Lords of the Housetops
1922 – Peter Whiffle
1923 – The Blind Bow-Boy
1924 – The Tattooed Countess
1925 – Red
1925 – Firecrackers. A Realistic Novel
1926 – Excavations
1926 – Nigger Heaven
1928 – Spider Boy
1930 – Parties
1930 – Feathers
1932 – Sacred and Profane Memories
1974 – The Dance Writings of Carl Van Vechten
Woman of the World
Awards and Acknowledgements:
Van Vechten played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance and helped in bringing greater clarity to the African-American movement.
He assisted respected writers in identifying publishers for their early works.
Remember Me to Harlem was published by Emily Bernard in 2001 as part of documentation of the long friendship between Langston Hughes and Van Vechten.
He was subject of a biography by Bruce Kellner in 1968 ‘Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverent Decades’ as well as Edward White’s biography in 2014 ‘The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America’.
Most of Van Vechten’s personal papers and portraits are held in the Universities like Yale University and Museums like Philadelphia Museum of Art.