Based on interviews with the late black photographer, James Van DerZee, whose oeuvre of aesthetic portraits and documents of Harlem life in the 1920's and 1930s "discovered" when he was 83 years old, James Haskin's biography of James Van DerZee is an intimate look at a man who pursued his craft when Harlem was in it heyday. Largely unsung during those years, and nearly penniless at the time his work began to be heralded, he looked back on his long life and career with humor and wisdom and generously shared his experience and philosophy with the author.
Since his death, Van DerZee has been increasingly acclaimed as one of twentieth century America's foremost black photographers and his work an unparalleled chronicle of his times. The photographs with which this book is liberally illustrated, from group portraits of social clubs to grammar school portraits, from Marcus Garvey parades to Harlem streetscapes, from celebrity shots to scenes of ordinary people, reveal why.
JAMES HASKINS, Professor of English at the University of Florida, Gainesville, is the author of more than 80 books for adult trade and young adult audiences.