'O, Write My Name': American Portraits, Harlem Heroes

Photographs by Carl Van Vechten, introduction by Darryl Pinckney


This elegantly designed and beautifully produced volume presents portraits of fifty extraordinary individuals who contributed to making the Harlem Renaissance one of the great cultural movements in American history. Some of the subjects are familiar—icons of music, dance, theater, literature, art, academia, and sports—while others are considerably less well known, but equally important to the spirit at the heart of the movement.

The photographs show the sitters not only as public personalities but also as private citizens. They ennoble without flattery, and benefit from the insight that their friendship with Van Vechten engendered. Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) was a well-known and controversial figure during his lifetime. He was a celebrated dance critic, novelist, photographer and friend of Harlem. In his introduction to the book, Darryl Pinckney writes of Van Vechten, “He recreated himself as an artist and he became a portrait photographer of historical importance….[The Harlem Renaissance] was a cultural movement that through his photography Van Vechten both witnessed and abetted. In remaining true to the cause, he discovered his best self.”

‘O, Write My Name’: American Portraits, Harlem Heroes is both a cultural and photographic treasure, providing new audiences with compelling studies of these inimitable figures who so essentially shaped what we know as American culture. The book is intended to contribute to a deep and lasting appreciation of the achievements of African-Americans of this era by informing succeeding generations about their works and their personalities.



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Design & Typography by Howard I. Gralla; Duotone separations by Thomas Palmer; Printed at Meridian Printing under the supervision of Daniel Frank; Bound by Acme bookbinding

Cloth, 136 pages, 50 duotones, 10 x 7 1/2 inches

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Review "The Best Books for Photography Lovers" by William Meyers Wall Street Journal, New York, NY
November 23, 2015
Review "Photography: Carl Van Vechten, Cecil Beaton and More" by Luc Sante New York Times Sunday Book Review, New York, NY
December 1, 2015
Review "Carl Van Vechten: Beyond the Harlem Renaissance: African American Portraits"

The Eye of Photography 

April 28, 2020 

Resource “Extraordinary Portraits of the Harlem Renaissance” A conversation with Ron Litke and Darryl Pinckney
Rivet Radio
April 3, 2015
Resource “The Letters of Langston Hughes” by James Campbell Wall Street Journal, New York, NY
February 21, 2015
Resource “Looking Harlem in the Eye” by Darryl Pinckney The New York Review of Books, New York, NY
February 19, 2015
Lecture The Eakins Press Foundation & 'O, Write My Name' Labor, Literature and Landmarks Lecture Series at the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen by Peter Kayafas
April 30, 2015
Event Bronze Medal - Photography 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award
May 10, 2016
Exhibition "Selections from 'O, Write My Name' American Portraits, Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten"

Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago 

Feb 11 - March 29, 1989 

Exhibition "Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten" Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC
August 26, 2016 - April 2, 2017
Exhibition "Beyond the Harelm Renaissance" African American Portraits by Carl Van Vechten

Keith de Lellis Gallery 

June 11 - September 18, 2020