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Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White

Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White

Author(s): Emily Bernard

Location(s): New York City (NYC)

Genre(s): Biography, Historical

Era(s): First half 1900s



Van Vechten’s theater of life unfolded across Manhattan: both in opulent drawing rooms and at formal dining tables as well as Harlem “rent parties” or at smoky Uptown clubs. He “lived at the intersection of black and white,” writes Emily Bernard, an associate professor of English at the University of Vermont, in her deeply absorbing and elegantly evoked biography of a man and his era, “Carl Van Vechten & the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black & White.” His presence, however, among the black intelligentsia was far from neutral: Was he an insider or an intruder? An advocate or a voyeur? Van Vechten was not simply a champion of the black arts movement flourishing in the first decades of the 20th century but, suggests Bernard, a man who helped it “to come to understand itself.”

Los Angeles Time

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