James VanDerZee lived and photographed in Harlem for decades, including the remarkable period of cultural flowering known as the "Harlem Renaissance" (about 1919-29). Harlem's middle-and upper-class citizens comprised a large block of VanDerZee's subject matter. So, too, did the groups around which much of everyday life was organized, the fraternal lodges, sports clubs, and social clubs. Much of his energy was devoted to posing his subjects, providing the right backgrounds, and structuring the moment to be recorded. His portraits are deeply psychological, providing rich insights into sitter and photographer alike. Here, VanDerZee carefully situated the four fashionably dressed women, paying particular attention to their gestures, poses, and gazes.
CMA, November 20,1996 - February 2, 1997: "Legacy of Light: Master Photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art."