The Carl Van Vechten Gallery

The Carl Van Vechten GalleryHoused in a late 19th century Victorian building, The Carl Van Vechten Gallery was established in 1949, when the acclaimed American painter Georgia O'Keeffe donated to Fisk the extraordinary group of works that form The Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

The collection was given in honor of O'Keeffe's husband, Alfred Stieglitz, the pioneering American photographer and art impresario. The gallery was named in honor of Carl Van Vechten, an American novelist, critic, photographer and philanthropist, who played an important role in securing The Stieglitz Collection for Fisk.

The Carl Van Vechten Gallery houses a changing schedule of traveling exhibitions and temporary installations from Fisk University's permanent art collections. Every two years, the gallery features The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Auguste-Pierre Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and Arthur Dove. 

You may view the list of works in The Stieglitz Collection by downloading the attached pdf .

Origins of Influence: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art

A new spirit enveloped American life at the dawn of the 20th century. It was a spirit of change, dissent, revolution, and of hopefulness. New directions seemed possible in politics, the arts, and in the quality of life overall. Institutions and established ways of thinking were subjected to critical reappraisals. Experimentation replaced acquiescence to received customs and traditions. Alfred Stieglitz embodied this new spirit more than any of his contemporaries working in the arts. At a time when American culture was redefining its fundamental ways of seeing, thinking, and experiencing the world, Stieglitz's seminal role as artist and art impresario defined him as a singular force for shaping a new American vision of art and culture. Origins of Influence: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art celebrates the legacy of the modernist movement.

The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art

After his death in 1946, Stieglitz’s widow, Georgia O’Keeffe, and her assistant Doris Bry, catalogued and donated most of his extensive collection to institutions at home and abroad. Fisk University was among the first to receive works from O’Keeffe, along with The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Works were also given to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Library of Congress, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Phillips Collection, The George Eastman House, and The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Charles S. Johnson (1893–1956), Fisk University’s first African-American president and his close friend, Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964), a New York writer, photographer, philanthropist, and friend of O’Keeffe, influenced her decision to give works to the university for the establishment of an on-campus art gallery. Today, a partnership has been forged between Fisk University and Crystal Bridges that allows this important collection to be shared between Nashville and Bentonville on a biannual basis.

Current Exhibitions

 Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom


April 12, 2018–August 19, 2018
Carl Van Vechten Gallery, Fisk University

This exhibition presents photographer Lee Friedlander’s images of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a critical yet generally neglected moment in American civil rights history. On May 17, 1957—the third anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, which outlawed segregation in public schools—thousands of activists, including many leaders from religious, social, educational, labor, and political spheres, united in front of the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C. At this first large-scale gathering of African Americans on the National Mall, an event that was a forerunner of the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, protesters called on federal authorities to enforce desegregation, support voting rights, and combat racial violence. Friedlander photographed many of the illustrious figures who attended or spoke at the march, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Mahalia Jackson, and Harry Belafonte, and he wove among the demonstrators on the ground to capture the energy and expressions of the day.

Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. Exhibition organized by La Tanya S. Autry, Curator of Art and Civil Rights at the Mississippi Museum of Art and Tougaloo College and former Marcia Brady Tucker Fellow, Yale University Art Gallery. Made possible by the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund and the James Maloney ’72 Fund for Photography.

Above image credit: Lee Friedlander, Mahalia Jackson (at podium); first row: Mordecai Johnson, Bishop Sherman Lawrence Greene, Reverend Thomas J. Kilgore, Jr., and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., from the series Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, 1957, printed later. Gelatin silver print. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Maria and Lee Friedlander, HON. 2004. © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

For more information on Let Us March On and Yale University Art Gallery click here




April 12, 2018–September 15, 2018
Carl Van Vechten Gallery, Fisk University

African-American Automobility: The Dangerous Freedom of the Open Road is a solo exhibition of works by Jonathan Calm. Jonathan Calm is a visual artist and assistant professor in Photography at the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University. His interests include urban architecture and housing, and he is currently developing new work around the representation of African-American automobility, featuring performance, reenactment and portraiture to evoke the tension between moving and still images and bodies.

For this exhibit, Jonathan Calm has created large murals of black-and-white photographs that capture both urban and rural landscapes in different areas of the country. These images provide a backdrop from which performers emerge at regular intervals to act out and deliver monologues relating to the origin of the photographs. Through their performance, they transform the pictures into historical documents that literally “come alive” and become oral history— highlighting how history can be performed at will. 45 images—grouped in grids of nine— memorialize a small selection of individuals of color who lost their lives when stopped for “driving while black” by depicting the locations where they were “targeted.” Reaching back to the Rodney King beating in the early 1990s, Calm seeks to pay sobering homage to the more and less known names claimed by an ongoing cycle of victimization that provokes newsworthy outrage one moment and recedes into mainstream media oblivion the next. Through a series of self-portraits, he contemplates his own experience in the space constituted by the dangerous freedom of the open road.

Above image credit: Jonathan Calm. Lorraine Motel I, 2017. All works copyright the artist, courtesy Rena Bransten Gallery Silver gelatin; dimensions variable. © Jonathan Calm.

African-American Automobility: The Dangerous Freedom of the Open Road is in collaboration with Stanford Art Gallery.

Permanent Installations

Aaron Douglas: Symbolic Negro History Murals
   Cravath Hall, 2nd Floor  

From A Master's Hand: Winold Reiss Portraits
   John Hope & Aurelia Franklin Library, 1st Floor 

An Extraordinary Gift: The James Miles Collection
   Appleton Room, Jubilee Hall, 1st Floor


On the corner of Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Blvd. and Jackson Street
Fisk University Campus
1000 17th Ave North
Nashville, TN 37208

New Hours

Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

* Closed University Holidays