The Carl Van Vechten Theatre Photographs contain over 300 black and white mounted prints of photographs taken by Carl Van Vechten, mostly at his studio from 1932 to 1943, principally of famous theatre artists, but also of renowned performers and figures in the arts, performing arts and literary world.
Biographical/historical: Author, critic and photographer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was born to a wealthy family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He moved to New York City in 1906 and worked as a music critic for The New York Times and later became its first modern dance critic. Van Vechten photographed many of the leading theatre and performing arts figures of his time. He also photographed many African-American artists and performers, as well as ethnic dancers. He died in his sleep in New York City at age 84.
Content: The collection contains over 300 black and white mounted prints of photographs taken by Carl Van Vechten, mostly at his studio from 1932 to 1943. While the photographs are primarily of theatre performers, writers and personalities, there are also photographs of other well-known figures in arts and letters of the time.
There are numerous photographs of the actress Fania Marinoff (Van Vechten's second wife), Tallulah Bankhead, Ina Claire, George M. Cohan, director Sidney Lumet as a child actor, Eugene O'Neill and Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, Maurice Schwartz, Gertrude Stein, Ethel Waters, and Anna May Wong. The New York City Stage Door Canteen and the production,This Is the Army (1943) are also well-represented in the collection.
A few important figures in the performing arts and arts and letters photographed by Van Vechten include La Argentinita, Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico, José Iturbi, Nora Kaye, Serge Koussevitsky, Hugh Laing, Alicia Markova, Henri Matisse, Bill Robinson, Antony Tudor, Charles Weidman, Franz Werfel, and Efrem Zimbalist.