Portraits of luminaries of the arts - 1930s-'60s
March 22, 2009 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Extravagant Crowd - Carl Van Vechten’s Portraits of Women and Photos of African Americans. Previous post by ND¢: Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten 1932-1964. Also, public domain works from Wikimedia Commons.

Van Vechten was an influential critic, novelist, photographer, and promoter of the arts. He was an early patron of the Harlem Renaissance - but sparked a huge controversy with his unfortunately titled novel, Nigger Heaven. Despite this controversy, his interest in and high regard for African American arts was not in dispute.

The Index and Introduction to the Portraits of Women collection is quite good, but for those who may not want to wade through all 96 pages of his African American collection, here is a selection I particularly liked:
Eartha Kitt, 1954
Billy Dee Williams, 1963
James Earl Jones, 1961
Dizzie Gillespie, 1955, 2
James Baldwin, 1955
Ralph Bunche, 1951
Harry Belafonte, 1954
Billie Holiday, 1949, another, and with Mister
Pearl Bailey, 1946
Leontyne Price, 1951, and as Bess
Ossie Davis, 1951
Joyce Bryant, 1953
Diahann Carroll, 1955
posted by madamjujujive (3 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks, darling! I've been completely absorbed in these for over an hour, and I've only scratched the surface. So great. The texts accompanying the images in the first link are really excellent, too, leading me off in all sorts of directions.

btw, does anyone else see a resemblance between young Pearl Bailey and Queen Latifah? Particularly here and here.
posted by taz at 10:39 AM on March 22, 2009

These are fascinating—what amazing women.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:55 AM on March 22, 2009

Nice. Scurlock might also be of interest to people who enjoy this.
posted by zoinks at 12:55 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

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