cover of book

The Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten: Public Face, Private Thoughts
by James Smalls
Temple University Press, 2006
Paper: 978-1-59213-306-2 | Cloth: 978-1-59213-305-5
Library of Congress Classification TR681.H65S66 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 779.28

Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was perhaps the most notorious white patron of the arts of black America, particularly during the Harlem Renaissance. In 1932, he gave up a career as a theater critic and a novelist of light fiction to become a full-time amateur photographer. His photographs of the era's celebrated African American cultural figures are well-known, but until recently his private, homoerotic interracial photographs were sealed in an archive. Author James Smalls considers how these images relate to Van Vechten's public persona and private desires. He discusses the interracial photographs in the context of white privilege and exotic tourism, primitivism's relation to modernism, camp sensibility and theatricality, and the vibrancy of underground gay visual culture during periods of political oppression. He also considers contemporary viewers' conflicting responses to the eroticized black male body in Van Vechten's and later twentieth-century photography. This original and provocative book embraces transracial voyeuristic pleasure while acknowledging the negative political implications of that pleasure. Amply illustrated with 60 pioneering duotones, The Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten celebrates the sensual nude male form with both candor and reverence, offering a rare glimpse into the private domain of the master photographer and his handsome subjects.

See other books on: 1880-1964 | Photography, Erotic | Portrait photography | Portraits | Van Vechten, Carl
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