how Carl Van Vechten shaped the legend of Gertrude Stein

Van-vechten-self-portrait-1933-236x300Edward White at Paris Review:

After that first meeting Van Vechten’s interest in Stein swiftly morphed into an obsession. Back in New York he set himself the task of hauling her from obscurity and into the mainstream. Van Vechten’s encounter with this “cubist of letters,” as she was described in a New York Times article he wrote about her, came at a perfect moment for both of them. In the early months of 1913, many Americans got their first glimpse of artists such as Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso, and Duchamp when the Armory Show exhibition of modern art hit New York with incendiary force. Stein’s links to these European radicals—“freaks,” as at least one American newspaper labeled them—generated much curiosity about her. Van Vechten, for his part, was at the beginning of his journey as a Manhattan tastemaker, loudly extolling the virtues of African-American theater, ragtime, and modern dancers such as Isadora Duncan. In Stein he found the perfect cause to champion: a unique artist whose mercurial work pulsated with the spirit of the age, but also one whose public image he could shape and bind himself to.

Early in February 1914, Van Vechten urged his friend and New York Times colleague Donald Evans to publish the manuscript of Tender Buttons through his new publishing house, the Claire Marie Press.

more here.