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   from the issue of October 12, 2006

Photos examine Harlem Renaissance

Eighteen prints, representing a cross-section of photographer James VanDerZee's work in the 1920s and 1930s, are on exhibit at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery through Dec. 17.

HARLEM VIEW - James VanDerZee's photograph,
HARLEM VIEW - James VanDerZee's photograph, "Couple in Racoon Coats," is among the 18 images in the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery exhibition, open through Dec. 17.

A superlative studio photographer, VanDerZee (1886-1983) captured the spirit and energy of life in Harlem during the early 20th century. With his second wife, Gaynella, he opened a photo studio in 1916 and quickly established himself as Harlem's preeminent photographer. He photographed successful African-American families and celebrities in carefully staged portraits, using costumes, furniture and painted backdrops to achieve an aura of glamour. He also photographed landmarks, parades, funerals and social clubs.

VanDerZee's business declined as did Harlem after World War II. He was nearly destitute before his collection was discovered and shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969. His work won widespread attention during the 1970s and has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and scholarship. The James VanDerZee Photographic Collections are at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

This exhibition of prints held in the Sheldon's collection is presented in conjunction with professor Patrick Jones' course, "Americans in the Jazz Age," at UNL this fall.

For more information on the exhibit or the museum, go online to or call 472-2461.



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