Photos of acclaimed African American artists, from Lena Horne and Zora Neale Hurston to Horace Pippin and Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, will be on view at the Morris Museum exhibition, O Write My Name: American Portraits – Harlem Heroes, from Jan. 14 through Feb. 27.
Lena Horne (Photo from Newark Museum Collection)
This exhibition features 50 portrait photos of African-American artists, writers and musicians taken by photographer Carl Van Vechten between the years 1930 and 1960. ‘O Write My Name’ was organized by the Newark Museum in Newark.
The collection consists of photogravures made by Richard M.A. Benson and Thomas Palmer for the Eakins Press Foundation from Van Vechten’s original 35mm negatives.
In the 1920’s, Carl Van Vechten, drama and music critic, novelist, and photographic chronicler of the Harlem Renaissance, became one of the leading popularizers of the African-American culture to white America. His attraction to African-American culture brought him into contact with many of the black writers, musicians, and artists who were the foundation of the Harlem Renaissance, like James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston and Claude McKay among others. Van Vechten not only provided a visual biography of Harlem from the 1920s through the 1960s, he was involved in the dynamics of the Harlem Renaissance itself, having developed friendships with many Harlem writers, musicians and artists who he introduced to white artists, patrons and publishers.
O Write My Name includes portraits of Lottie Allen, Marian Anderson, James Baldwin, Romare Bearden, Mary McLeod Bethune, Arna Bontemps, John W. Bubbles, Ralph Bunche, Countee Cullen, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, W.E.B. DuBois, Katherine Dunham, Ruby Elzy, Ella Fitzgerald, Althea Gibson, Dizzy Gillespie, W.C. Handy, Roland Hayes, Altonell Hines, Nora Holt, Lena Horne, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Mahalia Jackson, Charles S. Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Alain Locke, Joe Louis, Rose McClendon, Claude McKay, Mildred Perkins, Vera Peterson, Horace Pippin, Dorothy Porter, Leontyne Price, Paul Robeson, Bill Robinson, Edith Sampson, Bessie Smith, Maxine Sullivan, Howard Swanson, Sarah Victor, Margaret Walker, Fredi Washington, Ethel Waters, Josh White and Richard Wright.
Senior Friday, Friday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m., will feature an early afternoon of art and conversation with museum staff. The program includes a highlights tour of the O Write My Name exhibition, engaging discussion in the galleries, and light refreshments. Registration is not required. This event is free with museum admission.
The Morris Museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown. It is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is free to the public every Thursday between 5 and 8 p.m. Call 973-971-3700, or visit morrismuseum.org.