Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1880-06-17
Death 1964-12-21
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Carl Van Vechten was an American novelist, critic, essayist, book collector, and photographer.

From the description of Carl Van Vechten collection of papers, 1922-1964. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122455166

From the guide to the Carl Van Vechten collection of papers, 1911-1964, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

Carl van Vechten (1880-1964) was an American photographer, writer, and graduate of the University of Chicago. A music and dance critic for the New York Times, he was also a patron for many of the most prominent members of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. It was in the 1930s, after nearly 25 years in New York that he began taking portrait photographs. Among his subjects were Aaron Copland, Philip Johnson, Georgia O'Keefe, Diego Rivera, Gertrude Stein, and Alfred Stieglitz (photographs of all of whom are included in the collection here). When Gertrude Stein died, van Vechten became her literary executor, bringing into print many of her unpublished works. Van Vechten's papers are now held by the Bieneke at Yale University.

From the description of Carl Van Vechten photograph collection 1932-1956 (inclusive). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 624074678

Writer, critic.

From the description of Reminiscences of Carl Van Vechten : oral history, 1960. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309740384

Aldous Huxley was a British novelist, short-story writer, playwright, screenwriter, literary and social critic, and poet.

From the guide to the Aldous Huxley collection of papers, 1915-1973, 1915-1963, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was an American novelist and photographer, with an interest in the artists of the Harlem Renaissance.

From the description of Carl Van Vechten photograph collection, 1930s-1950s. (Tulane University). WorldCat record id: 774043000

Photographer, critic, translator, editor and author.

From the description of Letter, 1959, May 23 : New York. (Southern Illinois University). WorldCat record id: 13347219

Carl van Vechten (1880-1964) was an American photographer, writer, and graduate of the University of Chicago. A music and dance critic for the New York Times, he was also a patron for many of the most prominent members of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. It was in the 1930s, after nearly 25 years in New York that he began taking portrait photographs. Among his subjects were Aaron Copland, Philip Johnson,, Georgia O’Keefe, Diego Rivera, Gertrude Stein, and Alfred Stieglitz (photographs of all of whom are included in the collection here). When Gertrude Stein died, van Vechten became her literary executor, bringing into print many of her unpublished works. Van Vechten’s papers are now held by the Bieneke at Yale University.

From the guide to the Van Vechten, Carl. Photograph Collection, 1932-1956, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Carl Van Vechten was born on June 17, 1880, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At an early age, he developed an interest in music and theatre that he found hard to satisfy in his hometown. He left Iowa in 1899 to attend the University of Chicago. In Chicago he was able to explore art, music, and opera. He became interested in writing and contributed to the University of Chicago Weekly. After college, Van Vechten's first job was with the Chicago American. In addition to covering a broad range of topics, he was occasionally asked to provide photographs to go along with his copy. In 1906, when Van Vechten moved to New York City, he was hired as the assistant music critic at the New York Times. His interest in opera prompted him to take a leave of absence from the Times in 1907, to examine this art form in Europe. While in England he married his long-time friend from Cedar Rapids, Ann Snyder. The marriage would end in divorce in 1912. Van Vechten returned to his job at the New York Times in 1909 and soon became the first American critic of modern dance. At that time, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, and Loie Fuller were performing in New York. In 1914, Van Vechten married actress Fania Marinoff. He left his full time newspaper job in the spring, but he continued to write, and published several collections of his essays relating to music, ballet, and cats. Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works, Van Vechten's first novel, was published in 1922. Van Vechten became very interested in promoting black artists and writers. He was an avid collector of ephemera and books pertaining to black arts and letters, and was a frequent visitor to Harlem. These experiences provided the inspiration for his controversial novel, Nigger Heaven, which was published in 1926. In the future, he would photograph many of the creative people he met in Harlem. In the early 1930s Miguel Covarrubias introduced Van Vechten to the 35 mm Leica camera. He began photographing his large circle of friends and acquaintances. His earlier career as a writer and his wife's experience as an actress provided him with access to both fledgling artists and established cultural figures of the time. Some of his subjects from this period include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, Bessie Smith, and Gertrude Stein. Van Vechten's portraits are frequently busts or half-length poses in front of bold backdrops. Dancers were usually photographed on stage. Van Vechten did his own darkroom work, but frequently used an assistant to help set up lights for portrait sittings. During World War II Van Vechten volunteered at the Stage Door Canteen. Top-notch entertainers frequently performed there for servicemen. Van Vechten's photographs have been widely exhibited and frequently used as illustrations in books and magazines. He felt very strongly that his collections of manuscripts, letters, clippings, programs, and photographs, many pertaining to creative blacks, should be available for scholarly research. With this in mind, he presented various parts of his collections to several university libraries during his lifetime. Van Vechten remained active, writing and photographing up until his death in 1961.

From the description of Papers of Carl Van Vechten, 1939-1960. (University of Iowa Libraries). WorldCat record id: 233701937

Iowa-born American novelist and critic of music and drama.

From the description of Typed letter signed : New York, to Edward Wagenknecht, 1954 June 3. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270868263

Van Vechten was an American writer and photographer, associated with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance; he was the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.

From the description of [Autograph signature] / Carl Van Vechten. 1938. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 456574423

Carl Van Vechten was an important and famous American photographer who chronicled the first half of the 20th century including notable artists, intellectuals and African Americans.

From the description of Photographs, 1932-1964 (Brandeis University Library). WorldCat record id: 274113475

Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was a writer, promoter of African-American artists during the Harlem Renaissance, patron of the arts, and photographer. After he graduated from the University of Chicago in 1930, he entered upon a career as a reporter for newspapers that included The American in Chicago and within a few years The New York Times. At the latter he served as an overseas correspondent in Paris and subsequently as an assistant to the music critic Richard Aldrich in New York City. Van Vechten moved to New York City in 1906 with his first wife Anna Elizabeth Snyder, a teacher. After his divorce in 1912, Van Vechten met and married the stage actress Fania Marinoff. Marinoff made her stage debut at the age of eight in a stock company, and eventually developed a successful stage career. Van Vechten's novels include The Blind-Bow Boy, Interpreters and Interpretations, Nigger Heaven, Peter Whiffle, Tiger By the Tail, and The Tattooed Countess. Van Vechten promoted the careers of many authors' works by writing introductions to their monographs. In his second successful career as a photographer, he had the opportunity to photograph, and to have himself photographed, with many literary figures, stage and screen stars and others.

From the guide to the Carl Van Vechten papers, 1833-1965, 1920-1940, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Photographer, critic, author.

From the description of Photographs, 1932-1940. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155490084

Carl van Vechten was born in Iowa and graduated from the University of Chicago. He moved to New York to pursue a career in journalism, becoming music and style critic for the New York Times and publishing essays on a variety of arts, promoting the intellectualism that came to characterize American culture in the 1920s. Influential and successful, he later devoted himself to creative writing, publishing several novels that reflected his glib, eclectic, observative persona. He subsequently became a photographer, and worked to promote the works of Gertrude Stein, among others.

From the description of Carl van Vechten letter and postal cards to University Place Book Shop, 1946-1947. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 57520029

American author, fine arts critic, photographer, bibliophile, and philanthropist.

From the description of Carl Van Vechten collection, ca. 1920-ca. 1955; (bulk 1940-1949). (Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center). WorldCat record id: 70941288

Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was a writer, promoter of African-American artists during the Harlem Renaissance, patron of the arts, and photographer.

After he graduated from the University of Chicago in 1930, he entered upon a career as a reporter for newspapers that included The American in Chicago and within a few years The New York Times. At the latter he served as an overseas correspondent in Paris and subsequently as an assistant to the music critic Richard Aldrich in New York City. Van Vechten moved to New York City in 1906 with his first wife Anna Elizabeth Snyder, a teacher. After his divorce in 1912, Van Vechten met and married the stage actress Fania Marinoff. Marinoff made her stage debut at the age of eight in a stock company, and eventually developed a successful stage career. Van Vechten's novels include The Blind-Bow Boy, Interpreters and Interpretations, Nigger Heaven, Peter Whiffle, Tiger By the Tail, and The Tattooed Countess. Van Vechten promoted the careers of many authors' works by writing introductions to their monographs. In his second successful career as a photographer, he had the opportunity to photograph, and to have himself photographed, with many literary figures, stage and screen stars and others.

From the description of Carl Van Vechten papers, 1833-1965, bulk (1920-1940). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122687043

  • 1880 June 17: Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • 1899 - 1903 : Attended the University of Chicago, majoring in English.
  • 1903 - 1905 : Worked for Chicago American newspaper.
  • 1906: Worked as assistant music critic for the New York Times newspaper.
  • 1907: Married Anna Elizabeth Snyder; took first trip to Europe.
  • 1908 - 1909 : Worked as Paris correspondent for the New York Times newspaper.
  • 1910: Contributed music biographies to Century Dictionary.
  • 1912: Divorced Anna Elizabeth Snyder Van Vechten.
  • 1913: Worked as drama critic for the New York Press newspaper.
  • 1914: Married actress Fania Marinoff; took second trip to Europe.
  • 1914 - 1932 : Worked as independent writer and novelist.
  • 1932: Began serious work in photography.
  • 1935: Mounted first photographic show.
  • 1941: Founded Carl Van Vechten Collection of books and manuscripts in New York Public Library and also the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters at Yale University Library.
  • 1942 - 1945 : Served in the American Theatre Wing during World War II.
  • 1944: Founded George Gershwin Memorial Collection of Music and Musical Literature at Fisk University Library.
  • 1946: Founded Rose McClendon Memorial Collection of Photographs of Celebrated Negroes at Howard University Library. (Currently housed in the Prints and Photographs Department Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
  • 1947: Founded Anna Marble Pollock Memorial Library of Books about Cats at Yale University Library.
  • 1949: Founded Florine Stettheimer Memorial Collection of Books about the Fine Arts at Fisk University Library.
  • 1954: The Jerome Bowers Peterson Collection of Photographs by Carl Van Vechten of Celebrated Negroes presented by Dorothy Peterson to the University of New Mexico.
  • 1955: Honored on his seventy-fifth birthday by exhibitions at Yale University and at New York Public Library. Received honorary Ph.D. from Fisk University. Fragments from an unwritten autobiography published by Yale. Carl Van Vechten, A Bibliography published by A.A. Knopf Publishers.
  • 1960: Honored on his eightieth birthday by exhibitions at Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and at University of Pittsburgh. Honored as a chief benefactor by New York Library
  • 1961: Became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
  • 1964: Died in New York City.
  • 1966 June 17: Ashes scattered in Shakespeare Garden, Central Park.

From the guide to the Carl Van Vechten Collection, 1920-1950, (Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University)

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Subjects:

  • African Americans in the performing arts
  • Photographers--20th century
  • Photography, Artistic--20th century
  • African American artists
  • Dramatists
  • Photograph collections
  • Theatrical companies
  • African Americans--Politics and government
  • Entertainers--Portraits
  • African Americans
  • Male authors, American--Correspondence
  • African American authors
  • Women authors--Photographs
  • African Americans--Social conditions--To 1964
  • Authors
  • Landscape--Photographs
  • Dance and theatre
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • American literature--20th century
  • African American women artists
  • African Americans--Music
  • Authors, American--Portraits
  • African American photographers
  • Performing arts--History--20th century
  • Musical theater--United States
  • Popular culture
  • Authors, American--20th century--Archives
  • Critics--Interviews
  • Photography
  • Music critics--Archives
  • African American singers
  • African American musicians
  • Dramatists, American--20th century--Photographs
  • African Americans--History--1877-1964
  • Actresses
  • African American composers
  • Dance--United States
  • Ballet
  • Radio, television, film
  • African American dancers
  • Women dancers
  • Harlem Renaissance--Sources
  • African American theater
  • Authors--Interviews
  • Theater
  • Photography, Artistic
  • Actors
  • Photographers
  • African American dance
  • Photographers--Archives
  • Artists--Portraits
  • Musicians
  • Dancers
  • Painters
  • African Americans--Portraits
  • Lyricists
  • Performing arts--United States
  • Portrait photography

Occupations:

  • Collector
  • Authors
  • Photographers
  • Photographers--United States
  • Entertainers

Places:

  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)