Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten's Color Photographs of African Americans, 1939-1964

Eartha Kitt Carl Van Vechten... Eartha Kitt (1954, Kodachrome color slide, Stamped on verso: Photograph by Carl Van Vechten). From Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten's Color Photographs of African Americans, 1939-1964. "...Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964), photographer, promotor of literary talent, and critic of dance, theater, and opera, had an artistic vision rooted in the centrality of the talented person. He cherished accomplishment, whether in music, dance, theater, fine art, literature, sport, or advocacy. He began to make photographic portraits in 1932; in 1939 he discovered newly available color film. For a quarter century, he invited friends and acquaintances, well-known artists, fledgling entertainers, and public intellectuals to sit for him, often against backdrops reminiscent of the vivid colors and patterns of a Matisse painting. Among his subjects are a very young Diahann Carroll, Billie Holiday in tears, Paul Robeson as Othello, Althea Gibson swinging a tennis racquet, and a procession of opera stars, composers, authors, musicians, activists, educators, and journalists who made notable contributions to the cultural and intellectual life of the country." Also... Additional Works by Carl Van Vechten.

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