Carl Van Vechten
|Carl Van Vechten|
Photographic self-portrait by Carl Van Vechten, taken in 1934
|Born||Carl Van Vechten
June 17, 1880
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
|Died||December 21, 1964
New York City, New York
|Education||Washington High School|
|Alma mater||University of Chicago|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Snyder (? – 1912),
Fania Marinoff (1914 – 1964)
Life and career 
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he graduated from Washington High School in 1898, and later the University of Chicago in 1903. In 1906, he moved to New York City. He was hired as the assistant music critic at the New York Times. His interest in opera had him take a leave of absence from the paper in 1907, to travel to Europe to explore opera. While in England he married his long time friend from Cedar Rapids, Anna Snyder. He returned to his job at the New York Times in 1909 and then became the first American critic of modern dance. At that time, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, and Loie Fuller were performing in New York City. The marriage to Anna Snyder ended in divorce in 1912 and he wed actress Fania Marinoff in 1914. Although Van Vechten was married to Fania Marinoff until the end of his life, he was either homosexual or bisexual. Some of his papers were kept under seal for twenty-five years after his death, and when they were examined after that time, they were found to include scrapbooks of photographs and clippings related to homosexuality.
Several books of Van Vechten's essays on various subjects such as music and literature were published between 1915 and 1920. Between 1922 and 1930 Knopf published seven novels by Van Vechten, starting with Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works and ending with Parties.
Van Vechten was interested in black writers and artists, and knew and promoted many of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Richard Wright, and Wallace Thurman. Van Vechten's controversial novel Nigger Heaven was published in 1926. His essay "Negro Blues Singers" was published in Vanity Fair in 1926.
In the 1930s, Van Vechten began taking portrait photographs. Among the many individuals he photographed were Edward Albee, Judith Anderson, Marian Anderson, Pearl Bailey, Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, Tallulah Bankhead, Barbara Bel Geddes, Thomas Hart Benton, Jane Bowles, Marlon Brando, Paul Cadmus, Erskine Caldwell, Truman Capote, Bennett Cerf, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Ruby Dee, Jacob Epstein, Ella Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lynn Fontanne, John Hersey, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Horst P. Horst, Mahalia Jackson, Philip Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Gaston Lachaise, Sidney Lumet, Alfred Lunt, Norman Mailer, Alicia Markova, Henri Matisse, W. Somerset Maugham, Henry Miller, Joan Miró, Ramon Novarro, Georgia O'Keeffe, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Leontyne Price, Diego Rivera, Jerome Robbins, Paul Robeson, Cesar Romero, George Schuyler, Beverly Sills, Gertrude Stein, James Stewart, Alfred Stieglitz, Ada "Bricktop" Smith, Bessie Smith, Alice B. Toklas, Prentiss Taylor, Gore Vidal, Evelyn Waugh, Orson Welles, Thornton Wilder, and Anna May Wong.
Van Vechten initially met Gertrude Stein in Paris in 1913. They continued corresponding for the remainder of Stein's life, and at her death she appointed Van Vechten her literary executor; he helped to bring into print her unpublished writings.
After the 1930s, Van Vechten published little writing, though he continued to write letters to many correspondents.
He died at the age of eighty-four in New York City. Van Vechten was the subject of a 1968 biography by Bruce Kellner, Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverent Decades.
Most of Van Vechten's papers are held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. The Beinecke Library also holds a collection titled "Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten's Color Photographs Of African Americans, 1939-1964", a collection of 1,884 color Kodachrome slides. The Library of Congress acquired its collection of approximately 1,400 photographs in 1966 from Saul Mauriber. There is also a collection of his photos in the Prentiss Taylor collection in the Archives of American Art, a division of the Smithsonian Institution and a Van Vechten collection at Fisk University. The Museum of the City of New York's collection includes 2,174 of Carl Van Vechten's photographs.
Selected works 
- Music After the Great War (1915)
- Music and Bad Manners (1916)
- Interpreters and Interpretations (1917)
- The Merry-Go-Round (1918)
- The Music of Spain (1918)
- In the Garret (1919)
- The Tiger in the House (1920)
- Lords of the Housetops (1921)
- Peter Whiffle (1922)
- The Blind Bow-Boy (1923)
- The Tattooed Countess (1924)
- Red (1925)
- Firecrackers. A Realistic Novel (1925)
- Excavations (1926)
- Nigger Heaven (1926)
- Spider Boy (1928)
- Parties (1930)
- Feathers (1930)
- Sacred and Profane Memories (1932)
Arthur Schwartz, 1933
Cesar Romero, 1934
Gertrude Stein, 1935
Giorgio de Chirico, 1936
Fernand Léger, 1936
Orson Welles, 1937
Anna May Wong, 1939
Albert C. Barnes, 1940
W. C. Handy, 1941
Marlon Brando, 1948
Billie Holiday, 1949
Harry Belafonte, 1954
Ben Gazzara, 1955
Robert Morse, 1958
Christopher Plummer, 1959
Karen von Blixen-Finecke, 1959
- "Portraits by Carl Van Vechten - Carl Van Vechten Biography - (American Memory from the Library of Congress)". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- "Carl Van Vechten's Camera Documented Personalities". Cedar Rapids Gazette. March 10, 1971. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
- "Carl Van Vechten Biography". Biography.com. 1964-12-21. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- "Carl Van Vechten's Biography on nybooks.com". Retrieved July 10, 2012.
- NY Review of Books Thumbnail Bio
- "Carl Van Vechten". The Pink and the Blue: Lesbian and Gay Life at Yale and in Connecticut, 1642-2004. Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale. Archived from the original on 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- "Carl Van Vechten Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Carl Van Vechten". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
- "Carl Van Vechten: Biography from". Answers.com. 1964-12-21. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- "Prints & Photographs Online Catalog - Van Vechten Collection - Biography". Lcweb2.loc.gov. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten's Color Photographs Of African Americans, 1939-196. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Retrieved on 2009-07-08
- Bird, Rudolph P., editor (1997). Generations in Black and White: Photographs of Carl Van Vechten from the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0820319449
- Kellner, Bruce (1968). Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverent Decades. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-0808-8
- Kellner, Bruce (Ed.) (1980). A Bibliography of the Work of Carl Van Vechten. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-20767-4
- Kellner, Bruce (Ed.) (1987). Letters of Carl Van Vechten. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03907-7
- Smalls, James (2006). The Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten: Public Face, Private Thoughts. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-305-3
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: PD Van Vechten|
- Images by Carl Van Vechten in the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York
- Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten at the Library of Congress features a searchable database of photographs taken by Van Vechten.
- Carl Van Vechten's Portraits from the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University features a searchable database of over 9,000 black-and-white prints
- Harlem Renaissance - Carl Van Vechten: Webpage with bibliography of books and articles by and about Van Vechten.
- Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten's Color Photographs Of African Americans, 1939-1964 from the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University features a searchable database of 1,884 rare color Kodachrome slides
- Extravagant Crowd: Carl Van Vechten's Portraits of Women
- Books by Carl Van Vechten at the Universal Library at Carnegie-Mellon
- Postcards from Manhattan: The Portrait Photography of Carl Van Vechten at Marquette University reproduces hundreds of portrait postcards sent by Van Vechten to Wisconsin artist Karl Priebe from 1946-1956.
- Carl Van Vechten papers, 1833-1965. Manuscripts and Archives, New York Public Library.
- Carl Van Vechten collection of papers, 1911-1964. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library.
- Booknotes interview with Emily Bernard on Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, 1925-1964, April 22, 2001.