17 Items in this Learning Collection
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Accession Number


James Van Der Zee

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

7 in x 5 in (17.78 cm x 12.7 cm);14 5/16 in x 19 5/16 in (36.35 cm x 49.05 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Subject matter
This studio portrait by Van Der Zee is one of many images taken between the early 1900s through the 1940s, in which he documented the lives of Harlem residents. His work was discovered in the late 1960s for the controversial exhibit Harlem On My Mind at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, in 1969. This exhibition drew attention to his work for the first time. His work has since been praised for its aesthetic and style, which grew independently from popular movements at the time. His work offers a picturing of African American middle class life from the perspective of a conventional bourgeois portrait studio, offering alternatives to the dominant depictions of the time period.

Physical Description
A studio portrait of a young African American woman in 1920s apparel, including a short hairstyle, stockings, necklace, and dress. She stands with her left leg resting on a bench with her right arm akimbo.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

African American
benches (furniture)
dresses (garments)
fashion photography
modern and contemporary art
pumps (shoes)
studio portraits
women (female humans)

36 Related Resources

Artists of the Harlem Renaissance
(Part of 13 Learning Collections)
Borders of Identity in North America
(Part of 14 Learning Collections)
Oppositional Photography, Outsider Photography
(Part of 9 Learning Collections)
Photographic Portraiture 1900-1948
(Part of: Identity and Self-Understanding)
Race, Gender, Class, and American Identity
(Part of 11 Learning Collections)
W16 Steward - HISTORY 197 - Crossing the Color Line
(Part of: Teaching American Studies at UMMA)
W16 Miller - ENGLISH 362 - U.S. Modernism in Word and Image
(Part of: Teaching American Studies at UMMA)
Women and the Trades
(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)
Black France
(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)
SU19 - Gunning: CSP 100 Seminar Readings
(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)
Docent Resources for Meleko Mokgosi: Pan-African Pulp Commission
(Part of: Docent Information From Training Continuing Education Sessions)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved