Romare Bearden created a rich and invaluable perspective on mid–twentieth century African American life. Coming of age during the Harlem Renaissance, surrounded by musicians, writers and intellectuals, Bearden developed a unique aesthetic and philosophical approach to art. As a mature artist, utilizing scenes of the black milieu, musical rhythms, various mythologies, and the physical joy of an array of materials and colors, Bearden wove together stories of the conditions and dreams of African Americans. His work carries a political awareness, sometimes subtle, other times overt. In his public life he did not shy away from personal engagement, active in the Civil Rights movement and outspoken about artist’s rights and responsibilities. Bearden’s work and his life convey the continuing need for art to reconfigure and redirect the collective consciousness, and as such is a great touchstone. Considering the turbulence and challenges of our time, it is important to revisit Bearden. Thus we are honored to present a selection of Romare Bearden’s watercolors and collages.
Romare Bearden (1911 – 1988) was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and moved to New York City in the 1930s where he was a social worker and activist in addition to making art. He attended the Art Students League in New York and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. He received the National Medal of Arts in 1987. Bearden’s work is included in many public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art.