Van Vechten, Carl

Van Vechten, Carl

(văn vĕk`tən), 1880–1964, American music critic, novelist, and photographer, b. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, grad. Univ. of Chicago, 1903. While he was a leading music and dance critic in New York City, he celebrated such avant-garde figures as Igor StravinskyStravinsky, Igor Fedorovich
, 1882–1971, Russian-American composer. Considered by many the greatest and most versatile composer of the 20th cent., Stravinsky helped to revolutionize modern music.

Stravinsky's father, an actor and singer in St.
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 and Isadora DuncanDuncan, Isadora
, 1878–1927, American dancer, b. San Francisco. She had little success in the United States when she first created dances based on Greek classical art. But in Budapest (1903), Berlin (1904), and later in London and New York City (1908), she triumphed.
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, meanwhile writing The Music of Spain (1918) and other critical works. In his criticism, Van Vechten tended to spurn the 19th-century distinctions between high and low art, good and bad taste. At 40 he began writing novels, the best known of which, written in the sophisticated style of the 1920s, are Peter Whiffle (1922), The Blind Bow-Boy (1923), The Tattooed Countess (1924), Nigger Heaven (1926), and Spider Boy (1928). After completing his autobiographical Sacred and Profane Memories (1932), he turned to photography, concentrating on portraits of cultural figures and self-portraits. Van Vechten was also well known for his interest in African-American culture, his promotion of the artists of the Harlem RenaissanceHarlem Renaissance,
term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the Harlem district of New York City. During the mass migration of African Americans from the rural agricultural South to the urban industrial North
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, and his efforts to promote better interracial relations.

Bibliography

See E. Bernard, ed., Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten (2001); B. Kellner, Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverent Decades (1968); E. Bernard, Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance (2012); E. White, The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America (2014).

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Van Vechten, Carl

(1880–1966) writer, photographer; born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He studied at the University of Chicago (1899–1903), and worked for the Chicago American newspaper (1903–06). He moved to New York City and became a music critic, then Paris correspondent for the New York Times (1908–09). A longtime friend of Gertrude Stein, he became friendly with many of her circle. He wrote novels about life in New York City such as Nigger Heaven (1926), a work that renewed interest in the cultural life of African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. He also became an accomplished photographer in the 1930s, specializing in documentary portraits.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Van Vechten, Carl. "Response to the Negro in Art: How Shall He