James Van Der Zee
Topics: Photography, African American, Black people / Pages: 6 (1353 words) / Published: Mar 11th, 2013

James Van Der Zee

In case there is someone out there looking forward to become a celebrity, then he or she must be able to remain focused in life by emulating James Van Der Zee. This is a man who defied all odds and today is renowned for his great performance in photographic art. His work revolved around the culture of the Africans Americans. This artist was popular because of the way he captured the lifestyles of the middle class blacks using his camera especially during the Harlem renaissance. One of the most appealing photographs is that of the proud black couple in raccoon coats at the street of Harlem[1]. This is called “couple with Cadillac” and it was taken in 1932. Van Der Zee remains outstanding in photography despite the fact that he used black and white colors in his portraits. This made his artworks appear original and authentic which enabled the viewer to appreciate the prolific photographic style employed. Moreover, his images help us appreciate the love, culture and beauty of the Blacks in Harlem. In this paper, I would explore the background of James Van Der Zee and to determine the relevancy of his photographic work. Like most of the artists, James was not created a photographer instead he acquired the culture of photography as he grew up. James Van Der Zee was born from a very humbled family of John and Elizabeth Van Der Zee who resided at Lenox, Massachusetts on June 29, 1886. He was the second child in the family of six children. Initially, his parents stayed in New York City working for former President Ulysses S.Grant as butler and maid. However, when they came to Lennox, the parents started baking as their source of livelihood[2]. James and his brothers attended schools in Lenox before the family decided to go back to settle in Harlem in 1906. At school, James learnt music and art. He was skillful in playing piano and violin as well. It was during this time that he became a musician when he joined Fletcher Henderson’s band and John



Bibliography: Encyclopedia of World Biography. The Biography of James Van Der Zee. Thompson Corporation, (2006). Harlem on My Mind (1968). Braithwaite, Willis and Birt, Rodger .VanDerZee, photographer, 1886-1983. New York: Bantam Classics, 1993. ----------------------- [1] Harlem on My Mind, 1968 [3] Celebrating Black History in Art: James VanDerZee, Accessed March 25, http://clarkeartconsulting.com/blog/artist-talk/celebrating-black-history-in-art-james-vanderzee-1886-1983/ [4] Harlem on My Mind, 1968 [7] Encyclopedia of World Biography. The Biography of James Van Der Zee. Thompson Corporation, (2006)

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