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Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

The Couple in Raccoon Coats

Accession Number
2015/2.34

Title
The Couple in Raccoon Coats

Artist(s)
James Van Der Zee

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1932

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

Dimensions
16 in x 17 in (40.64 cm x 43.18 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the Estate of James van Sweden

Subject matter
This is one of Van Der Zee's most well-known images. Taken after the depression had started, it represents an African American couple who appear very prosperous. It 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
This is a photograph of an African American couple. A man sits inside his car, while a woman stands just outside, as if she is about to sit in the passenger seat. They both wear large raccoon coats. 

Primary Object Classification
Photograph

Collection Area
Photography

Rights
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.

Keywords
automobiles
couples
fur stoles
street scenes

3 Related Resources

Cars and Car Culture
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
Grammar and Ekphrasis Writing Portfolio
(Part of: Writing + Art Enrichment Activities)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved