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Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945
Art and Entertainment in the 1930s and 1940s
Portraits by Carl Van Vechten

Carl Van Vechten was a music and dance critic as well as a writer. In the 1930s, when he was in his 50s, Van Vechten began photographing the many celebrities he knew. Below are ten portraits made by Van Vechten. What consistencies do you see in his work? Observe backgrounds, body positions, facial expressions, and the use of light and shadow. Use your observations to describe Van Vechten's style. Compare Van Vechten's portraits with modern photo portraits (school pictures are a good modern example). What similarities and differences do you observe? What do they tell you about changing tastes among the American public?

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Ethel Waters

Composer and singer Ethel Waters

Laurence Olivier

Actor Laurence Olivier

Clare Booth Luce

Journalist Clare Booth Luce

Georgia O'Keeffe

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe

Countee Cullen

Poet Countee Cullen

Alicia Markova

Dancer Alicia Markova

Carlos Chavez

Conductor Carlos Chavez

Zora Neale Hurston

Writer Zora Neale Hurston

Langston Hughes

Writer Langston Hughes

Tallulah Bankhead

Actress Tallulah Bankhead


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