Romare Bearden (1911-1988) was born in North Carolina, but moved to Harlem at an early age where his mother led the New York office of an African-American newspaper. Bearden quickly became familiar with the artists of the Harlem Renaissance, and through his own paintings, collages, and prints strove to produce visually innovative work concentrating on the African-American experience. In 1963, together with Norman Lewis, he founded the Spiral Group, an artistic collective that produced works of art in response to the civil rights movement. Despite his political interests, Bearden’s art remained rooted in the depiction of the community that he knew and loved:
"...it is not my aim to paint about the Negro in America in terms of propaganda....[I] paint the life of my people as I know it as passionately and dispassionately as Brueghel painted the life of the Flemish people of his day.... My intention is to reveal through pictorial complexities the richness of a life I know."
- Bearden, excerpted from his 1969 essay "Rectangular Structure in My Montage Paintings"
Bearden's work is included in important 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 and The Studio Museum in Harlem. He has had retrospectives at the Mint Museum of Art (1980), the Detroit Institute of the Arts (1986), as well as numerous posthumous retrospectives, including The Studio Museum in Harlem (1991) and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2003). In 1987, President Ronald Regan awarded him the National Medal of Arts.
September 27th -
November 9th, 2019
Romare Bearden, Mecklenburg Autumn, 1979
© 2019 Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York