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Artists Romare Bearden
Romare Bearden Photo

Romare Bearden

American Painter and Collagist

Movements and Styles: Cubism, Collage, Harlem Renaissance

Born: September 2, 1911 - Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Died: March 12, 1988 - New York, New York, USA

Romare Bearden Timeline

Quotes

"If you're any kind of artist, you make a miraculous journey, and you come back and make some statements in shapes and colors of where you were."
Romare Bearden
"You put down one color and it calls for an answer. You have to look at it like a melody."
Romare Bearden
"Artists have this desire for a vision of the world...There's some painting someplace that's not in a museum and it's your idea as a painter to put that one thing that is missing there."
Romare Bearden
"When I conjure these memories, they are of the present to me, because after all, the artist is a kind of enchanter in time."
Romare Bearden
"What I've attempted to do is establish a world through art in which the validity of my Negro experience could live and make its own logic."
Romare Bearden

"Black art has always existed. It just hasn't been looked for in the right places."

Romare Bearden Signature

Synopsis

A prominent American artist, Romare Bearden created dazzling work celebrating the black American experience, which he integrated into greater (predominantly white) American modernism. After working several decades as a painter, during the politically tumultuous 1960s Bearden found his own voice by creating collages made of cut and torn photographs found in popular magazines that he then reassembled into visually powerful statements on African-American life. The artist's subject matter encompassed the urban milieu of Harlem, traveling trains, migrants, spiritual "conjure" women, the rural South, jazz, and blues musicians, and African-American religion and spirituality. Late in his life, the artist established The Romare Bearden Foundation to aid in the education and training of talented art students. Bearden remains revered as a highly esteemed artist of the 20th century.

Key Ideas

Although influenced by high modernists such as Henri Matisse, Bearden's collages also derived from African-American slave crafts such as patchwork quilts and the necessity of making artwork from whatever materials were available. This turn to quotidian materials helped break the divide between the fine and popular arts, enabling a greater number of cultures and people to participate in the creation of arts.
Through his culling of images from mainstream pictorial magazines such as Look and Life, and black magazines such as Ebony and Jet, Bearden inserted the African-American experience, its rich visual and musical production, and its contemporary racial strife and triumphs into his collages, thus expressing his belief in the connections between art and social reality.
Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso introduced collage into the modernist vocabulary. In it, Bearden located a methodology that allowed him to incorporate much of his life experience as an African American, from the rural South to the urban North and to Paris, into his work.

Biography

Romare Bearden Photo

Romare Howard Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, into a college-educated and relatively financially successful middle-class African-American family, which was not ordinary for the time, especially in the Deep South. An only child, Bearden was born in the house of his great-grandfather. His father played the piano, and both his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather created paintings and drawings. Bearden's grandparents were property owners in Charlotte and in Pittsburgh. Despite the family's success, pervasive Southern racism set limits on their lives and livelihoods. With the installation of the Jim Crows Laws (1893, Plessey vs. Ferguson), which made racial segregation the law of the land, the Beardens and other African-American families were condemned to racial secondary social status. The Beardens relocated to the urban North along with hundreds of thousands of African Americans who likewise left the rural South behind for what they hoped would be racial equality and greater financial and educational opportunities. The Great Migration, as this mass movement of people was called, became an important subject for many African-American artists, most notably the painter Jacob Lawrence.

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Romare Bearden Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Romare Bearden
Interactive chart with Romare Bearden's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
George GroszGeorge Grosz
Diego RiveraDiego Rivera

Personal Contacts

Stuart DavisStuart Davis
Ad ReinhardtAd Reinhardt
Duke EllingtonDuke Ellington
Ralph EllisonRalph Ellison
Jacob LawrenceJacob Lawrence

Movements

Folk ArtFolk Art
CubismCubism
Social RealismSocial Realism
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Romare Bearden
Romare Bearden
Years Worked: 1935 - 1988
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Emma AmosEmma Amos
David HammonsDavid Hammons
August WilsonAugust Wilson

Personal Contacts

Robert BlackburnRobert Blackburn
Harry HendersonHarry Henderson
Charles AlstonCharles Alston
Jacob LawrenceJacob Lawrence

Movements

Harlem RenaissanceHarlem Renaissance
Social RealismSocial Realism
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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