A VINTAGE APPROXIMATELY 6 3/4 X 9 3/8 INCH PHOTOGRAPH. FROM FEBRUARY 17'53 OF.In introducing on records a singer of Martha Flowers' rich musical background, I thought it was important to choose selections that clearly demonstrate her flexibility, her dramatic talent, and above all her musicianship. For Martha Flowers is first and foremost a musician; she can sing. Anything and sing it well, from a Schubert lieder to a tune from a Broadway show. She is a convincing actress who can convey dramatic intensity without the powerful visual aid provided by a stage setting. For example, in ANY TIME, ANY DAY, ANYWHERE, the lyricist is trying to convey the idea that the person is perfectly willing to do anything, any place and any time that will help if she, is needed; but the written word doesn't convey this nearly as well as the combination of the words and the melody plus the dramatic meaning that, Martha draws from this song. One gets the feeling of infinity on each phrase when she says any time--any day--anywhere.
I chose this particular song to introduce the album because of its recitative quality. The next selection, Rodgers & Hart's DANCING ON THE CEILING played by the trio, particularly. Suits the dramatic mood of this album, yet provides a change of pace from the opening song and sets the stage for-I HAD MYSELF A TRUE LOVE. This song is particularly dramatic--the outstanding thing about it is that it's so convincing the way she does it out of context of the play (Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen's Free and Easy in which Martha starred in London).
The character in the play, Lila, is very much in love with a man who does not love her. All her neighbors tell her he's with another woman but she doesn't believe them.It is when she is finally convinced he doesn't love her that she sings I HAD MYSELF A TRUE LOVE. The trio then plays another Johnny Mercer song, FOOLS RUSH IN. This has always been one of my favorite songs and so I'm particularly pleased at being able to include it in this album. George Gershwin's LOVE WALKED IN combines all the facets of recitative singing--the chorus, the dramatic continuity, and for the first time a jazz-like quality, a tempo, which Martha handles with ease. I don't think I know of any popular singers who are sopranos. Most of them are contraltos and it is rather rare to find a soprano who swings convincingly-this. Of course, is another facet of Martha's talent. In the PORGY AND BESS SUITE, Martha sings two songs from the show: THE STRAWBERRY. SONG and OH DOCTOR JESUS. She has sung Bess many times, most recently at the New York City Center opposite William Warfield as Porgy. THE STRAWBERRY SONG was not written by George Gershwin, although it is contained in the score. It was an old street vendor's cry and according to legend was sung to Gershwin by the mother of Helen Dowdy, the Strawberry Woman in the original Broadway version of Porgy & Bess. Gershwin, in turn, interpolated it into his folk opera. And while Martha explains how fresh they they are and how much they are going to be liked, the husband is eyeing Martha. The wife decides "no, I don't want any, " primarily to get her husband away and Martha, sensing this, says "Humm" and goes off to approach other possible customers. The next aria in the suite, OH DOCTOR JESUS, is a prayer sung by Serena to bring Bess back to health. Martha brings to this performance another facet of her vocal virtuosity--through her superb musicianship, she creates a moment of great poignancy which, to me, is one of the high points of this recording. Read what the critics have said, read what I say, but primarily listen and decide for yourself--and. I think you will agree that Martha Flowers is one of the finest singers you have ever heard. Miss Flowers seems to sing as easily as most people speak. Because of that facility she can shape the expression of her words with the sort of subtlety and variety of emphasis that is possible to an accomplished actress.... She has stage presence and poise, as well as a clear, fresh voice that is just as velvety as it is agile. Martha Flowers, the great soprano, interpreted a wide program that comprised a great diversity of styles in which. When on Cadence LP CLP 1004, entitled Piano Perspectives, magnificent pianist Don Shirley starts playing I can't get started, his introduction reminds one of I loves you Porgy. Don Shirley knows every brand and style. His improvisations shift easily from jazz to popular to classical.
That is why Rachmaninoff unexpectedly turns up on Cadence CLP 25055 Don Shirley introduces Martha Flowers. The record is also a grand introduction to Don Shirley himself, to his elaborate technique, subtle swinging and inspired harmonies. It is an introduction for all those people who did not get acquainted with this phenomenon from the nineteen fifties and sixties. The first side of the LP with songs by Victor Young, Richard Rogers, Harold Arlen, R.
Bloom, and George Gershwin was recorded on August 6, 1962 by engineer John Quinn. The Porgy and Bess Suite was recorded much earlier, on October 19, 1960, by famous recording technician George Piros. Both recordings were made at Fine Recording Studios, New York City, and have all the traits of a perfect Robert C. It is not clear who the cellist and the string bass player are.
Gilberto Munguia and Henry Gonzalez? Martha Flowers sings with Shirley and a cello and string bass player the songs she did so well on the Dutch recording: Strawberry Woman and an ever so compelling Oh, Doctor Jezus. The First Black Diva by Nichole Martin. By today's standards, a diva would be arrogant and egotistical, demanding and eccentric, but the dictionary defines a diva as a distinguished, female, operatic singer --a female operatic star. That definition is the one that describes Martha Flowers.The mezzo-soprano has toured the world and received raving reviews wherever she has performed. From Carnegie Hall to the famed La Scala Opera house in Milan, she has been hailed the Soprano's soprano. In 1954, she won the prestigious Naumburg Award for musical excellence, of which there has only been one other African American winner since 1925. Her voice quality and diction command attention while her poise and flamboyance are the essence of class. Those who have heard her have called her voice "a wonder of nature". "Sometimes when I think about it I'm really amazed, " reflects Flowers -- and amazed she has the right to. In Music at Fisk University, she was accepted into the Julliard School of. There she studied beside Leontyne Price under the famed Florence Page Kimball. It was also at Julliard where she was discovered by famed director Robert Breen. Breen hired her as lead for a tour of "Porgy and Bess" and thus her illustrious career began. The year was 1954 and while the Supreme Court was outlawing segregation, Martha Flowers was headed to Paris, France. As the tour made its way back around to the United States, it stopped in San Francisco. After a performance one night, the cast was winding down at a club called The Purple Onion.
On stage that night was a wonderful poet and dancer who performed in African inspired attire; Flowers noted how great the performer was. The performer turned out to be Maya Angelou.At Flowers' request, Maya Angelou was added to the tour. After her tour ended, Flowers discovered that the fans who heard her performance in Bess were now eager hear her perform as a solo artist. Flowers' wonder of nature allowed her to open to packed opera houses around the world. She has sung Bach, Mozart and Handel to standing ovations in Norway, Belgium, Germany and Russia. She was invited to tour with the New Zealand Opera and to perform at the famous Roskilde Domkirke where the kings of Denmark are buried, just to name a few. She can also remember doing the tango in Argentina at a time when dedicate a certain number of hours. A night to the South American dance. Flowers now resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In 1973, she came to Chapel Hill to teach music at the University of North Carolina for one year and has remained a resident.
Once in a while, she'll "take" a student, having taught the likes of local celebrities such as Nnenna Freelon and Lois Dawson. Martin: What would you say are the qualities of a true singer?Flowers: You are talking to a trained singer. So that has nothing to do with people who are pop singers and commercial singers who use microphones and such. I had a tremendous desire to be an opera singer and when I finished college I just moved to New York to pursue that. I remember telling my mother that I was going to perform on Broadway before I knew what Broadway really was. Martin: You have done so much being an African American in the operatic world.
How hard is it to break into the wonderful world of opera? Flowers: There are not many black singers going into the operatic field because the doors were closed for so long I think they just lost the interest in it.
Now there is theatre, big appearances and recordings, movies and. The music scene has changed tremendously, but for people who love opera and really like to sing it, why not? If they have the ability and the willingness to really put in the work that is required, they can make it. Martin: Out of the opera singers who are out there today, is there one you are particularly fond of?She is an excellent opera singer. She is a beautiful singer of the highest quality. Martin: Do you have any words of inspiration for the artists out there today? Flowers: First, the artist has to love the art. In order to really perfect your art, you have to really be in love with it and do it with all your heart. That opens up the way to attract the right energies. Martin: Do you still teach? Are you taking students now or have you stopped? Flowers: I don't think I'll ever stop.
Of course I love a glamorous Old Hollywood shot of the likes of Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, but I also love collecting portraits of everyday people from the period. You can tell so much of the time period from the fabric and drape of the garments worn as well as the personality and inner emotion of the model. I have seen only a small fraction of a series of Kodachrome photographs taken of some of the most talented and beautiful artists during the Harlem Renaissance.Some popular and some underrated, overlooked, or hard to find African American painters, singers, actors, photographers, dancers, writers, and designers. I was surprised to learn that this series of photographs was taken by Carl Van Vechten who was a white writer and artistic photographer. It is worth noting that he was an extremely problematic figure in the Harlem Renaissance scene.
While he promoted many African American artists such as, Zora Neale Hurston, Paul Robeson, and Ethel Waters, he also wrote problematic and controversial works such as Nigger Heaven (1926). His interest in the artistic African American community of Harlem oftentimes seemed like mere disingenuous intrigue at the way the opposite race lived. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that this series of beautiful artistic photographs that he captured are worth sharing.I hope that by sharing this post, I may introduce you to some black artists from the past that you may have never heard of or maybe you will see a black artist you love in a different photographic light (like these lovely photographs of Billie Holiday). Either way I hope you guys enjoy! Jazz singer Billie Holiday, 1949. (April 7, 1915 July 17, 1959) Holiday got her start singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She was known for her distinctive, emotional, sometimes haunting vocals with raspy undertones.
Some of her most popular songs and performances are "Strange Fruit, " "God Bless the Child" and her album Lady Sings the Blues (1956). Holiday is noted for being one of the greatest jazz/blues singer of all time with a boastful 30 year singing career. Dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, 1955.
(January 5, 1931 December 1, 1989) Ailey was best known for mastering the art of fusing different dance styles African, jazz, modern dance, ballet, etc. He also founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Author and anthropoligst Zora Neale Hurston, 1940. (January 7, 1891 January 28, 1960) Hurston was known for conducting extensive research on various studies dealing with black culture and combining that research with her own African American experience and racial division to write satirical.
And critical shorts and novels such as, Mules and Men (1935), Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937); and Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939). Writer and activist James Baldwin, 1955. (August 2, 1924 December 1, 1987) Baldwin was best known for his power with words.
He wrote essays in magazines such as The New Yorker and Harper and conducted tours and debates to discuss an ideology that was between Malcolm X's ideas and Martin Luther King Jr. Along with his essays wrote plays such as Blues For Mr. Charlie (1964) and If Beale Street Could Talk (1974). Singer and Broadway actress Martha Flowers, 1953.
(Birthdate and death date unknown) There is not much information out there about Martha Flowers but from what I can gather she had a marvelous, operatic and theatrical singing voice. Don Shirley described in his introduction on her, she can sing. (Full review on her here) She seemed best known for her groundbreaking role in the Broadway Revival Four Saints in Three Acts (1952). It's a heart-wrenching tale about addiction, abuse and the life-cramping effects of poverty and racism.
And it's also about hope, faith, joy and the redeeming power of love. It is the sprawling American opera Porgy and Bess, and the 75th anniversary of its premiere is being observed this year with a revival at the Washington National Opera.The music is probably as well known as any in American life, filled with classics, like the opening aria Summertime. Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Summertime and the livin's easy.
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is fine. MARTIN: But the racial politics of the story are probably as complicated as ever, perhaps especially because there's an African-American man occupying the White House just a short distance, in fact, from where the opera is being performed.
So, we thought this was a good time to celebrate and reflect on this phenomenon of American cultural life. So we've decided to call upon artists who have performed in "Porgy and Bess, " then and now.
In a moment we'll hear from two of the male leads currently performing in the Washington opera production. She is, of course, one of this country's most celebrated artists, and she played the role of Ruby in a 22-nation tour of "Porgy and Bess, " sponsored by the State Department back in the 1950s. And she's with us now. Thank you for joining us.
MAYA ANGELOU (Artist): Thank you so much. Just imagine that was 60 years ago. MARTIN: Do you remember how you got the role? ANGELOU: Of course I remember. I'm a writer and writers either have good memories or nothing at all.
ANGELOU: Well, I was a dancer who could sing a bit. And the dancer, the principle dancer was leaving the company. So when the company came to San Francisco in 1954, I was singing in a nightclub and some of the artists saw me and they asked if I could dance on the stage. So, of course, I mean, that's what I really had trained to do. And they invited me to take the role.
I couldn't because I was under contract. And then I was offered a role in a Broadway play called House and Flowers.
So I went to New York to audition for it. And while I was there, "Porgy and Bess" called me and asked, would I like to join them in Portland, Maine, and then go overseas.The producers of "House and Flowers" asked me, are you crazy? You're going to take a minimal role in a play going on the road when we're offering you a principle role for a Broadway play? I said, I'm going to Europe.
I'm going to get a chance to see places I ordinarily would never see, I only dreamed of in the little village in Arkansas in which I grew up. Oh, no, I'm going with Porgy and Bess.Martin, it was one of my best choices. MARTIN: Will you tell us more about that? I was reading up on this and a number of the people who've written about "Porgy and Bess" have talked about the fact that, you know, black folks have had a love/hate relationship with this work. On the one hand it offers a showcase to wonderful artists such as yourself. On the other hand, you know, the story, the dialect, the representation of black life frankly just makes some people sick. So, I wanted to ask, you know, tell me a little bit more about why this was such an important experience.
ANGELOU: Well, I was with I don't know how many 40, 50 people in the company. And they had over 120 degrees in music. There were so few places for black singers trained in European classics to work. The company could afford to get a person who had one degree from Curtis and another from Julliard just to be in the chorus. And the singers were so great.Now, I could sing by heart, but I didn't love singing. And I believe you can only become great at something you really love. And so I could sing, but every night or two, one of those trained singers would say, Maya, I'm sorry to tell you, but you flatted that C. ANGELOU: You sharped that G. I didn't even know I was singing in the alphabet.
But I learned so much about teamwork, about respect. Because there were the obvious difficulties that happen between personalities.But there was respect always. MARTIN: You know, sometimes these cultural works, people think of them years later and are not always happy that they were in them. I had the opportunity to visit with Rita Moreno, for example, who's still kind of struggling with West Side Story.
You know, on the one hand it was a great opportunity for her, on the other hand, she still is troubled by the story, the depictions. So I wanted to ask you, at the end of the day, do you think we are better off for "Porgy and Bess, " or worse? Martin, a poet and a pope and a prisoner and a priest, they all have to be seen in their time.
You can't say in 2010 with a black man in the White House and a black woman president of one of the fine universities and so forth, you can't say how people felt in 1952. You cannot know that unless you were there. I was very grateful to be with "Porgy and Bess, " and to know that when Martha Flowers sang the "Strawberry Song, " that whatever the Gershwin's had learned they had taken that directly out of the mouths of people in the South. This was exactly what was sung. So I was proud to proud to be an African-American.
I knew that there was art from the poets and from the Gershwin's. I knew there was great art. I also knew that they had been inspired by great art, the great art of the African-American. MARTIN: Maya Angelou, author, playwright, inspiration, and if we could be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday, which we understand is forthcoming.
MARTIN: We are so delighted to have a chance to speak with you today. Thank you so much for joining us. ANGELOU: Thank you very much. My pleasure to talk to you.
MARTIN: Now the two men who've been acclaimed for their roles in "Porgy and Bess, " and are performing in the current production with the Washington National Opera. Eric Owens, a bass baritone is currently performing the role of Porgy and Larry Hylton a tenor, who graduated from this city's Duke Ellington School of the Arts, is currently appearing as Sporting Life, and they are here with us in our Washington, D. LARRY HYLTON (Actor): Thank you.OWENS: Nice to be here. MARTIN: And I want to mention that both roles are so vocally demanding that there are two people in each of the roles that you are performing and you switch off, so I want to thank you for giving us this time when you really should be resting your voices.
MARTIN: So thank you for that. OWENS: It's a pleasure.
This work has been beloved. It has moved audiences to tears around the world. It's offered a critical showcase to some of the finest African-American performers, but it's always been controversial.
The African-American social critic Harold Cruse wrote: "Porgy and Bess" belongs in a museum. And no self-respecting African-American should want to see it or be seen in it. MARTIN: So, why did each of you want to be in it?I assume you weren't under subpoena. OWENS: No, we weren't forced into this at all. MARTIN: So, Eric, why dont you start.
Why did you want this role? OWENS: It's a wonderful and complex character and it's a great piece of theater and it's great music. And I think we have reached a time in our society where we can appreciate it for what it is and not have it necessarily have any negative connotations about our culture.
You know, I know during the civil rights movement people such as Harry Belafonte and others, they were very critical of the piece and I always say I can understand that, especially when a group of people can't be self-defining when someone else from outside the culture has made this piece of art to represent what we're all about, it can be a little disconcerting, especially with the political climate at the time and during the civil rights movement. But, I mean Gershwin, he lived in Harlem and he grew up around, you know, black culture and he and, you know, he loved jazz, of course. And both Hayward, the writer of the novel "Porgy, " actually lived in South Carolina. So they weren't making this up. They were actually observing a particular community in Charleston.MARTIN: Okay, Larry, what about you? I remember Grace Bumbry, the opera diva, initially refused the role and she eventually did take it, and you play, you know, a drug dealer which is something that many performers of color just get a little tired of. HYLTON: I just think there's something to be said about ownership. For me, "Porgy and Bess" is a truly authentic storytelling. It's a story that is bred in Charleston, South Carolina, where I've had the opportunity to perform this role.
And when you do it there, there's such a different sense from the audience because its completely relatable to them. And so, it's harder maybe for an outside of that area audience to grasp it at first. But for me, I've never had a problem performing in it. One, because its such a beautiful piece of music.
Two, because the characters are so real and so relatable. Everyone knows a drug dealer. Everyone knows the church lady, and everyone knows someone who has an addiction. All these characters are portrayed in the show.And so, for someone to say that no self-respecting black person would go and see this show, just let's me know that they dont have the education required to understand it. MARTIN: Oh, well, he had plenty of education. He just had an opinion. MARTIN: But a strong opinion. I'm just going to quote from George Gershwin quoted in the New York Times in 1935.
And he writes: Because'Porgy and Bess' deals with negro life in America, it brings to the operatic form elements that have never before appeared in the opera, and I have adapted my method to utilize the drama, the humor, the superstition, religious fervor, the dancing and irrepressible high spirits of the race. OWENS: I mean all opera takes on this heightened sense of drama and, you know, and you can find characters like these in the European operas as well. I mean so, yeah, I think that's..
MARTIN: So Eric, talk to me about Porgy and what youre bringing to it. And just so that people just can experience a little bit of your deliciousness, I'll play a little bit of you. MARTIN: As I mentioned, many people, they know this music even if they dont know why they know this music.
MARTIN: They dont even remember how they heard it but they know it. MARTIN: Here's you singing well, everybody knows what it is.(Soundbite of song, "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin"). OWENS: (Singing) I got plenty o' nuttin' and nuttin's plenty for me. I got my gal, got my song, got Hebben the whole day long. MARTIN: So when you were preparing to be Porgy and as you are portraying him, what are you thinking about? OWENS: Even though he's disabled, he's very strong. He's got a very strong character and his upper body strength is very strong. I mean, it's shown several times when he grabs Sporting Life and he ultimately kills Crown. So I come at it from a sense of him not being a victim, having a strength, but also there's a vulnerability there. He lives in this community where he sees other people having lives that he doesnt think he'll ever have, a family, you know, a wife, children, what have you.
And when he does finally connect with Bess, I mean it's this wonderful thing that I think he really is trying to hold on to. And also there's a softness about him as well. I mean that Bess has never experienced this sort of love, this kind of tenderness.With Crown, its just sort of come here woman, you know. And so I think they're experiencing something with each other that they never have before. MARTIN: Larry, what about you? Ill just play a little bit of you as Sporting Life. (Soundbite of song, "It Ain't Necessarily So").
HYLTON: (Singing) De things dat yo' liable to read in de Bible. It ain't necessarily so. Li'l David was small but oh my. Li'l David was small but oh my, he fought big Goliath who lay down and dieth. MARTIN: Now you really get to do a lot.I mean you get to wear fabulous costumes. MARTIN: I mean poor Porgy gets some pants and a shirt. MARTIN: And he has one outfit. OWENS: It's a two months span in an opera. OWENS: So he must start to really smell. MARTIN: Yeah, well Bess starts doing laundry so we hope that that got taken care of. But you get to wear a fabulous costume. You get to be mean and, you know, and but again, you know, for some its like, you know, youre a drug dealer, a pimp. What are you thinking about when youre bringing Sporting Life to life? HYLTON: Well, I get to be mean, but I get to be likeable. And those are contradictions, I know, but my entire intent is to get away from Catfish Row. I'm a part of that community. It is a large community, but I've been outside of there so that I know the world is a larger place. And so, I'm always looking for the next trick or the next way to get myself away from Catfish Row.
MARTIN: Washington is a special place to be performing Porgy and Bess. It was the last stop on a three-month U.
Tour that ended in Washington in 1936. In the initial tour, it was the last production George Gershwin was to see. It was the scene of a famous stand by, youre..
MARTIN: Eric is nodding here - by the leads at the time, Todd Duncan and Anne Brown because the stars refused to perform in a segregated theater. OWENS: In a segregated theater. MARTIN: Which the National Theatre was at that time and for many many years. And even though they were threatened with career suicide at the time..
They absolutely refused and they won. MARTIN: And the National Theatre did, in fact, desegregate for the run.. So there is that piece. Of course, they re-segregated after that, but that's a whole other story. And now youre here with an African-American in the White House, an African-American leading - and I wonder does any of that come together for you in any kind of a interesting way?
OWENS: I think that reinforces the idea of enjoying the piece as a piece of music theater and not having to put all these, you know, racial tensions on the piece or, you know, being ashamed of doing the piece. You know, we have come a long way. MARTIN: I want to leave where the Washington Post writer Anne Midgette ended her review. She writes: The music will endure. Whether the piece will or even should, given the limitations of its portrayal of its characters, is open to question.Kind of a tough question. Larry, what do you think? HYLTON: I think that it is an awesome piece of not only American history but musical history, and that it's time for "Porgy and Bess" to be treated as grand opera instead of this racially motivated or somehow something to keep us from doing something. It, for me, is a springboard and I just believe that if it's treated as such from its inception, then it will become that. MARTIN: Larry Hylton is currently appearing as Sporting Life.
Eric Owens is currently appearing as Porgy in the Washington National Opera production of Porgy and Bess. They both joined us in our Washington, D.
Gentlemen, thank you both so much. Carl Van Vechten (June 17, 1880 December 21, 1964) was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.
 He gained fame as a writer, and notoriety as well, for his 1926 novel Nigger Heaven. In his later years, he took up photography and took many portraits of notable people. Although he was married to women for most of his adult life, Van Vechten engaged in numerous homosexual affairs over his lifetime. Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was the youngest child of Charles and Ada Van Vechten.
:14 Both of his parents were well educated. His father was a wealthy and prominent banker.
His mother established the Cedar Rapids public library and had great musical talent.  As a child, Van Vechten developed a passion for music and theatre.  He graduated from Washington High School in 1898. After high school, Van Vechten was eager to take the next steps in his life, but found it difficult to pursue his passions in Iowa. He described his hometown as "that unloved town".
In order to advance his education, he decided in 1899 to study at the University of Chicago where he studied a variety of topics including music, art and opera. As a student, he became increasingly interested in writing and wrote for the college newspaper, the University of Chicago Weekly. After graduating from college in 1903, Van Vechten accepted a job as a columnist for the Chicago American. In his column "The Chaperone", Van Vechten covered many different topics through a style of semi-autobiographical gossip and criticism.  During his time with the Chicago American, he was occasionally asked to include photographs with his column.
This was the first time he was thought to have experimented with photography which later became one of his greatest passions.  Van Vechten was fired from his position with the Chicago American because of what was described as an elaborate and complicated style of writing.
Some described his contributions to the paper as "lowering the tone of the Hearst papers".  In 1906, he moved to New York City. He was hired as the assistant music critic at The New York Times.  His interest in opera had him take a leave of absence from the paper in 1907 to travel to Europe and explore opera.
While in England, he married Anna Snyder, his long-time friend from Cedar Rapids. Under the leadership of Van Vechten's social mentor Mabel Dodge Luhan, he became engrossed in avant-garde art. This was an innovative type of art which explores new styles or subject matters and is thought to be well ahead of other art in terms of technique, subject matter, and application. He also began to frequently attend groundbreaking musical premieres at the time when Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, and Loie Fuller were performing in New York City.
He also attended premieres in Paris where he met American author and poet Gertrude Stein in 1913.  He became a devoted friend and champion of Stein. He was considered to be one of Stein's most enthusiastic fans.
 They continued corresponding for the remainder of Stein's life, and, at her death, she appointed Van Vechten her literary executor; he helped to bring into print her unpublished writings. :306 A collection of the letters between Van Vechten and Stein has been published. Van Vechten wrote a piece called "How to Read Gertrude Stein" for the arts magazine The Trend. In his piece, Van Vechten attempted to demystify Gertrude Stein and bring clarity to her works.Van Vechten came to the conclusion that Gertrude Stein is a difficult author to understand and she can be best understood when one has been guided through her work by an "expert insider". He writes that "special writers require special readers". The marriage to Anna Snyder ended in divorce in 1912, and he wed actress Fania Marinoff in 1914.
 Van Vechten and Marinoff were known for ignoring the social separation of races during the times and for inviting blacks to their home for social gatherings. They also were known to attend public gatherings for black people and to visit black friends in their homes. Although Van Vechten's marriage to his wife Fania Marinoff lasted for 50 years, they often had arguments about Van Vechten's affairs with men.  Van Vechten was known to have romantic and sexual relationships with men, especially Mark Lutz.
Mark Lutz (19011968) grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and was introduced to Van Vechten by Hunter Stagg in New York in 1931. Lutz was a model for some of Van Vechten's earliest experiments with photography. The friendship lasted until Van Vechten's death. At Lutz's death, as per his wishes, the correspondence with Van Vechten, amounting to 10,000 letters, was destroyed.Lutz donated his collection of Van Vechten's photographs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Several books of Van Vechten's essays on various subjects, such as music and literature, were published between 1915 and 1920, and Vechten also served as an informal scout for the newly formed Alfred A.  Between 1922 and 1930 Knopf published seven novels by him, starting with Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works and ending with Parties.  His sexuality is most clearly reflected in his intensely homoerotic portraits of working-class men. As an appreciator of the arts, Van Vechten was extremely intrigued by the explosion of creativity which was occurring in Harlem. He was drawn towards the tolerance of Harlem society and the excitement it generated among black writers and artists. He also felt most accepted there as a gay man.  Van Vechten promoted many of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, including Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman. Van Vechten's controversial novel Nigger Heaven was published in 1926. His essay "Negro Blues Singers" was published in Vanity Fair in 1926. Biographer Edward White suggests Van Vechten was convinced that negro culture was the essence of America.
Van Vechten played a critical role in the Harlem Renaissance and helped to bring greater clarity to the African-American movement. However, for a long time he was also seen as a very controversial figure.
In Van Vechten's early writings, he claimed that black people were born to be entertainers and sexually "free". In other words, he believed that black people should be free to explore their sexuality and singers should follow their natural talents such as jazz, spirituals and blues.  Van Vechten wrote about his experiences of attending a Bessie Smith concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Newark, New Jersey, in 1925. In Harlem, Van Vechten often attended opera and cabarets.He was credited for the surge in white interest in Harlem nightlife and culture as well as involved in helping well respected writers such as Langston Hughes and Nella Larsen to find publishers for their early works. In 2001, Emily Bernard published "Remember Me to Harlem". This was a collection of letters which documented the long friendship between Van Vechten and Langston Hughes, who publicly defended Nigger Heaven.  Bernard's book Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White explores the messy and uncomfortable realities of race, and the complicated tangle of black and white in America. Van Vechten House and Studio, Manhattan, New York City, 2017. By the start of the 1930s and at the age of 50, Van Vechten was finished with writing and took up photography, using his apartment at 150 West 55th Street as a studio, where he photographed many notable people. After the 1930s Van Vechten published little writing, though he continued writing letters to many correspondents.
Van Vechten died in 1964 at the age of 84 in New York City. His ashes were scattered over the Shakespeare garden in Central Park, Manhattan, New York.  He was the subject of a 1968 biography by Bruce Kellner, Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverent Decades,  as well as Edward White's 2014 biography, The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America. Most of Van Vechten's personal papers are held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.The Beinecke Library also holds a collection titled "Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten's Color Photographs Of African Americans, 19391964", a collection of 1,884 color Kodachrome slides. Saul Mauriber, after a photograph of Salvador Dalí by Halsman, 1944 by Van Vechten. The Library of Congress has a collection of approximately 1,400 photographs, which it acquired in 1966 from Saul Mauriber (May 21, 1915 February 12, 2003). There is also a collection of Van Vechten's photographs in the Prentiss Taylor collection in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, and a Van Vechten collection at Fisk University. The Museum of the City of New York's collection includes 2,174 of Carl Van Vechten's photographs.
Brandeis University's department of Archives & Special Collections holds 1,689 Carl Van Vechten portraits.  Van Vechten also donated materials to Fisk University to form the George Gershwin Memorial Collection of Music and Musical Literature. The Philadelphia Museum of Art currently holds one of the largest collection of photographs by Van Vechten in the United States. The collection began in 1949 when Van Vechten made a gift of sixty of his photographs to the museum. In 1965, Mark Lutz made a gift to the museum of over 12,000 photographs by Van Vechten from his personal collection.Included in the collection are images from extensive portrait sessions with figures of the Harlem Renaissance such as Langston Hughes, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Zora Neale Hurston, and Cab Calloway; artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Frida Kahlo; and countless other actors, musicians, and cultural figures. In 1980, concerned that Van Vechten's fragile 35 mm nitrate negatives were fast deteriorating, photographer Richard Benson, in conjunction with the Eakins Press Foundation, transformed 50 of the portraits into handmade gravure prints. The album'O, Write My Name': American Portraits, Harlem Heroes was completed in 1983. That year, the National Endowment for the Arts transferred the Eakins Press Foundation's prototype albums to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds 17 of Van Vechten's portraits of leading creative talents of his era. At age 40, Van Vechten wrote the book Peter Whiffle, which established him as a respected novelist.This novel was recognized as contemporary and an important work to the collection of Harlem Renaissance history. In his novel, autobiographical facts were arranged into a fictional form. In addition to Peter Whiffle, Van Vechten wrote several other novels.
One is The Tattooed Countess, a disguised manipulation of his memories of growing up in Cedar Rapids.  His book the Tiger in the House explores the quirks and qualities of Van Vechtens most beloved animal, the cat. One of his more controversial novels, Nigger Heaven, was received with both controversy and praise. Van Vechten called this book "my Negro novel". He intended for this novel to depict how African Americans were living in Harlem and not about the suffering of blacks in the South who were dealing with racism and lynchings.
Although many encouraged Van Vechten to reconsider giving his novel such a controversial name, he could not resist having an incendiary title. Some worried that his title would take away from the content of the book. In one letter, his father wrote to him "Whatever you may be compelled to say in the book, " he wrote, your present title will not be understood & I feel certain you should change it. Many black readers were divided over how the novel depicted African Americans. Some felt that it depicted black people as "alien and strange", and others valued the novel for its representation of African Americans as everyday people, with complexity and flaws just like typical White characters.The novel's supporters included Nella Larsen, Langston Hughes and Gertrude Stein, who all defended the novel for bringing Harlem society and racial issues to the forefront of America. His supporters also sent him letters to voice their opinions of the novel.
Alain Locke sent Van Vechten a letter from Berlin citing his novel Nigger Heaven and the excitement surrounding its release as his primary reason for making an imminent return home. Gertrude Stein sent Van Vechten a letter from France writing that the novel was the best thing he had ever written. Stein also played an important role in the development of the novel.
Well known critics of this novel included African-American scholar W. Du Bois and black novelist Wallace Thurman. Du Bois dismissed the novel as "cheap melodrama".  Decades after the book was published, literary critic and scholar Ralph Ellison remembered Van Vechten as a bad influence, an unpleasant character who "introduced a note of decadence into Afro-American literary matters which was not needed". In 1981, David Levering Lewis, historian and author of a classic study of the Harlem Renaissance, called Nigger Heaven a "colossal fraud, " a seemingly uplifting book with a message that was overshadowed by "the throb of the tom-tom".He viewed Van Vechten as being driven by "a mixture of commercialism and patronizing sympathy". Music After the Great War (1915).
Music and Bad Manners (1916). The Music of Spain (1918). The Tiger in the House (1920). Lords of the Housetops (1921).
Sacred and Profane Memories (1932). The Dance Writings of Carl Van Vechten (1974). Source: A bibliography of the writings of Carl Van Vechten at the HathiTrust Digital Library. Pierre Balmain and Ruth Ford, 1947. Robert Hunt and Witter Bynner.Donald Windham and Sandy Campbell, 1955. John Gielgud as Richard II, 1936. Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, 1952. Martha Graham and Bertram Ross, 1961. Marilyn Horne and Henry Lewis, 1961. Carl Van Vechten: Biography and Chronology. Carl Van Vechten was born on June 17, 1880 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At an early age, he developed an interest in music and theater, which he found hard to satisfy in his hometown. He left Iowa in 1899 to attend the University of Chicago. In Chicago he was able to explore art, music, and opera. He became interested in writing and contributed to the University of Chicago Weekly. After college, Van Vechten's first job was with the Chicago American. In addition to covering a broad range of topics, he was occasionally asked to provide photographs to go along with his copy. In 1906, when Van Vechten moved to New York City, he was hired as the assistant music critic at the New York Times.
His interest in opera prompted him to take a leave of absence from the Times in 1907, to examine this art form in Europe. While in England he married his long time friend from Cedar Rapids, Anna Snyder. The marriage would end in divorce in 1912. At that time, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, and Loie Fuller were performing in New York. In 1914, Van Vechten married actress Fania Marinoff.He left his full time newspaper job in the spring, but he continued to write, and published several collections of his essays relating to music, ballet, and cats. Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works, Van Vechten's first novel, was published in 1922. Van Vechten became very interested in promoting black artists and writers. He was an avid collector of ephemera and books pertaining to black arts and letters and a frequent visitor to Harlem. These experiences provided the inspiration for his controversial novel, Nigger Heaven, which was published in 1926.
In the future, he would photograph many of the creative people he met in Harlem. In the early 1930s, Miguel Covarrubias introduced Van Vechten to the 35mm Leica camera. He began photographing his large circle of friends and acquaintances.His earlier career as a writer and his wife's experience as an actress provided him with access to both fledgling artists and the established cultural figures of the time. Some of his subjects from this period include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, Bessie Smith, and Gertrude Stein. Van Vechten's portraits are frequently busts or half-length poses, in front of bold backdrops. Dancers were usually photographed on stage. Van Vechten did his own darkroom work, but frequently used an assistant to help set up lights for the portrait sittings. During World War II, Van Vechten volunteered at the Stage Door Canteen. Top-notch entertainers frequently performed there for servicemen.
Saul Mauriber, one of the busboys under Van Vechten's supervision, began working as his photographic assistant and remained in this capacity for twenty years. Mauriber was also responsible for organizing Van Vechten's photographs and eventually became the photographic executor for Van Vechten's estate. Van Vechten's photographs have been widely exhibited and frequently used as illustrations in books and magazines. He felt very strongly that his collection of manuscripts, letters, clippings, programs, and photographs, many pertaining to creative blacks, should be available for scholarly research.
With this in mind, during his lifetime, he presented various parts of his collection to several university libraries. The Library of Congress acquired its collection of approximately 1,400 photographs in 1966 from Saul Mauriber. Van Vechten remained active, writing and photographing, up until his death in 1964.Born June 17 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Charles Duane Van Vechten and Ada Amanda Fitch. Graduates from the University of Chicago. Moves to New York City, where he is hired by the New York Times as assistant to the music critic. Travels to Europe to study opera. Becomes Paris correspondent for the New York Times. Becomes the first American critic of modern dance, while working at the New York Times. Works as drama critic for the New York Press. Publishes several collections of essays relating to music, dance, and cats. Writes seven novels, including Peter Whiffle: His Life and Works, published in 1922, and Nigger Heaven, published in 1926. Buys a Leica and begins photographing both fledgling and established artists and performers. Van Vechten's photographs are displayed at Bergdorf Goodman, along with the work of Cecil Beaton, Edward Steichen, Man Ray, and George Platt Lynes. Exhibits photographs in the annual Leica Exhibition. Exhibits over 100 theater photographs at the Museum of the City of New York.
Works as a volunteer at the Stage Door Canteen. Saul Mauriber begins work as Van Vechten's assistant and organizes his photographs, an association that lasts for 20 years. Exhibits photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Receives honorary degree, Doctor of Literature, from Fisk University. Dies at the age of 84 in New York City.The item "MARTHA FLOWERS BY CARL VAN VECHTEN 1953 NYC AFRICAN AMERICAN OPERA SINGER rare" is in sale since Tuesday, July 7, 2020. This item is in the category "Art\Art Photographs". The seller is "collectiblecollectiblecollectible" and is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This item can be shipped to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czech republic, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Estonia, Australia, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Slovenia, Japan, Sweden, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, South africa, Thailand, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Bahamas, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Norway, Saudi arabia, United arab emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Croatia, Malaysia, Chile, Colombia, Costa rica, Panama, Trinidad and tobago, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Antigua and barbuda, Aruba, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Saint kitts and nevis, Saint lucia, Turks and caicos islands, Barbados, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Brunei darussalam, Bolivia, Ecuador, Egypt, French guiana, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Iceland, Jersey, Jordan, Cambodia, Cayman islands, Liechtenstein, Sri lanka, Luxembourg, Monaco, Macao, Martinique, Maldives, Nicaragua, Oman, Peru, Pakistan, Paraguay, Reunion, Viet nam, Uruguay.