Bearden, Romare

Bearden, Romare rōmâr bĭrˈdən [key], 1911–88, American painter and collagist, b. Charlotte, N.C. Bearden grew up in Harlem and studied at New York Univ. and the Art Students League, New York City. In his mature work he attempted to come to terms with and universalize the experience of African Americans. His early work involved religious themes, social realism, and then abstraction; his later showed a greater connection with African-American life, particularly with jazz and its relation to the art of collage, which beginning in the early 1960s became his most important mode of expression. The extremely prolific artist is also noted for prints in a variety of media, e.g., the lithographs in “Jazz Series” (1979). In the 1960s he was a founder of the Cinque Gallery, which was intended to help young artists, and of the Spiral Group, which aided African-American artists.

See biographies by J. Greenberg (2003) and M. Schmidt (2018); M. Schwartzman, Romare Bearden, His Life and Art (1990); R. Fine, ed., The Art of Romare Bearden (2003); R. J. Powell et al., Conjuring Bearden (2006).

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