The Tastemaker

Paperback
The Tastemaker explores the many lives of Carl Van Vechten, the most influential cultural impresario of the early twentieth century: a patron and dealmaker of the Harlem Renaissance, a photographer who captured the era's icons, and a novelist who created some of the Jazz Age's most salacious stories. A close confidant of Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Van Vechten frolicked in the 1920s Manhattan demimonde, finding himself in Harlem jazz clubs, Hell's Kitchen speakeasies, and the Greenwich Village underground gay scene. New York City was a hotbed of vice as well as creativity, and Van Vechten was at the centre of it all. Edward White's biography-the first comprehensive biography of Carl Van Vechten in nearly half a century-depicts a controversial figure who defined an age. Embodying many of the contradictions of modern America, Van Vechten was a devoted husband with a coterie of boys by his side, a supporter of difficult art who also loved lowbrow entertainment, and a promoter of the Harlem Renaissance whose bestselling novel infuriated many of the same African American artists he championed. The Tastemaker is a remarkable portrait of a man whose brave journeys across boundaries of race, sexuality, and taste helped make America fully modern.