James Van Der Zee's Work Of Art During The Harlem Renaissance

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Many African Americans became quite popular due to their personal style in the aspects

of photography, painting, drama, poetry, and prose during the Harlem Renaissance. Each

aesthetic person had their own purpose for their works of art. Many of them wanted to depict the

beauty of Harlem as well as emphasize the importance of equality between races and classes.

The Harlem artists produced many great works of art in the black community from the 1920s and


There had been a few people during the Harlem Renaissance that were very well-known

for their photography; James Van Der Zee being one of them. His fascination with photography

started when he was young. While he was in fifth grade, he was the second person in Lenox,
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He said, "I tried to pose each person in such a way as to tell a

story." In attempt to create an individual tale, he would often set up his subjects in dramatic

scenes. Some scenes included parents listening to their kids playing piano, a child speaking on

the phone, or a gypsy telling an old man 's fortune (Ibid).

James Van Der Zee took pride in his Harlem community by beautifying his photographs.

He extensively altered the look of his Harlem customers by touching up the negatives of the

photograph, even to the point where they looked like a new person. He said, "I tried to see that

every picture was better-looking than the person." To do so he would straighten crooked teeth,

add jewelry, or fill in a bald spot. He also said, "I had one women come to me and say, 'Mr. Van

Der Zee, my friends tell that 's a nice picture, but it doesn 't look like you. ' That was my

style" (Ibid).

Another technique that Mr. Van Der Zee developed was the photo montage (Ibid), "a

combination of several photographs joined together for artistic effect or to show more of
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Becoming more familiar to the "white world"

he continued his connection with black show business by performing at Harlem 's Hoofer 's Club.

He began to receive greater role opportunities and was even paired with Lena Horne as the

leading romantic duo in the 1943 musical film Stormy Weather (Ibid).

Even though Bill "Bojangles" Robinson became quite famous, he did not forget who he

was. One of his main concerns was protecting the rights of black performers. In 1905, he played

a role as the sidekick to comedian George W. Cooper in Blackface. The routines centered around

racial and ethnic humor, which helped defuse the social discrimination the two faced while not

performing. Ultimately, Robinson did not get caught up in the glamour or forget the struggles of

African American actors, which lead to him eventually becoming a founding member of the

Negro Actors Guild of America (Ibid).

During the Harlem Renaissance, poets added much emotion to the prejudiced. Langston

Hughes was one of these poets, and he was arguably the most famous poet from Harlem. He

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