Carl Van Vechten(1880-1964), Critic, novelist and photographer
Artist of 22 portraits
An American essayist and novelist of Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works (1922) and the controversial Nigger Heaven (1926), Van Vechten only took up photography in 1932, aged 51, aiming to portray all the leading creative talent of his era. He worked in a makeshift studio apartment with a Leica, using painted backdrops inspired by Matisse and took over 15,000 photographs between 1932 and 1964. A champion of African American culture and promoter of key players in the Harlem Renaissance, Van Vechten created an important visual record of the major cultural figures of his time.
by Carl Van Vechten
vintage gelatin silver print, 28 May 1934
View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.
Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.