Romare Bearden 1911 —1988





"Such distortion of scale and proportion... And abstract coloration,
are the very means through which I try to achieve a more personal expression.
I paint of my people, not as propaganda, but as dispassionately as
Breughel painted the life of the Flemish people of his day

Working in a modernist style, Romare Bearden expressed thru collage the complexities and uniqueness of his being in American Society.  Bearden is the 'dean' of American black artists whose work reflects the excitement of both city life and life in the countryside.  No matter where Bearden lived and worked, he somehow arranged to be near trains, bodies of water or birds. Bearden felt that there was a commonality, or link between trains, the excitement of life and the changing range of life's experiences. "  Some of Bearden's most noteable work done of sites outside the city, was of Mecklenberg County."  Memories is a major work by the artist, it puts large size, collage, and a train together in a Mechlenburg County work.

Bearden exhibited at Cordier and Warren  1959-1961 and then at Cordier & Ekstrom through 1988, NY a gallery of consummate taste and independent vision.  Those who exhibited along with Bearden, at the gallery were Dubuffet, Matta, Noguchi, Duchamp, Lindner and Ossorio.   Before joining Cordier & Ekstrom, Bearden showed  his works with Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes and Carl Holty.  

Bearden's work embodies the black experience in 20th-century America. The influences which inspired Bearden throughout his lifetime were many and varied. He grew up in New York during the Harlem Renaissance in a household regularly visited by jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, he had a career in songwriting in the 1930s and by the 40's he had begun creating collages. Throughout his career, his inspiration was music, Southern life and black culture.  

Bearden's technique was time-consuming, yet effective. He created his collages on masonite boards which were laid flat on a work table surrounded by scraps of paper, various oils and temperas, inks, synthetic polymer paints and brushes. Romare Bearden presented black life on a grand and epic scale in a style that was vibrant and poignant. He was also the recipient of the Medal of the State of North Carolina and the National Medal of the Arts.

A major retrospective of the Artist's work was shown at the National Gallery of American Art, Washington DC in 2004 and will move to the High Museum, Atlanta and the Whitney Museum of American Art later in the year, accompanied by the exhibition catalogue by Ruth Fine (Curator, National Gallery of Art) .  Bearden's works are represented in 114 books including, Robert Hughes, American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America and Gail Levin, Twentieth Century American Painting: Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and in 42 major museums including, The Hirshhorn Museum and The National Gallery in Washington DC, Art Institute of Chicago, Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, The Mint Museum, The Newark Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Neuberger Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art

Six monographs on the artist have been written; including works by Ruth Fine, Curator of The National Gallery; McCleary Bunch, Myron Schwartzman, Alexandra  Anderson-Spivy, Thomas R Toperzer and the Studio Museum in Harlem.  As well, Bearden's works have been recorded and discussed in books of American Art such as: Sidra Stich, An Americanization in Modern Art '50s & 60s; Gail Levin, Twentieth Century American Painting from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection; Taylor Littleton, Painting, Politics and Cultural Confrontation; David Dridkell, A Postmodernist View; Robert Hughes, The Epic History of Art in America;  as well as all books specifically on African American Art of the 20th century.

An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs  by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.

To bookmark Janet Lehr Fine Arts Gallery website:

View synoptic biography below.



Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey, Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition
Romare Bearden: Storyteller, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Select Collection: Prints Romare Bearden, North Carolina Humanities Council, Greensboro, NC
Romare Bearden: Insight & Innovation, DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY
Romare Bearden - Master Printmaker, National Arts Club, New York, NY

From Process to Print: Graphics Works by Romare Bearden, Bearden Foundation Traveling Exhibition

Southern Recollections, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Romare Bearden: The Soul of Blackness/ A Centennial Tribute, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY
Color and Construction: The Intimate Vision of Romare Bearden, Neil L. and Angelica Zander Rudenstine Gallery at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Paris Blues Revisited: Romare Bearden, Albert Murray, Sam Shaw, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
Picasso to Warhol: 14 Modern Masters, The High Museum, Atlanta, GA
The Bearden Project Exhibition, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
A Centennial Celebration, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Bearden the Painter, Essie Green Galleries, New York, NY
Romare Bearden: Artist as Activist, Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York, NY

Contemporary, Cool and Collected, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC

Bearden in the 1960s, The Bearden Foundation Gallery, New York, NY
Conjuring Bearden, The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC
A Century of Collage, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR

The Unseen Romare Bearden, Xavier University Art Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
Romare Bearden: Enchanter in Time, The Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC

The Art of Romare Bearden, The National Gallery of Art, Touring Exhibition (September 2003 - April 2005)

Projections: The Photomontages of Romare Bearden, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Phillip Morris, New York, NY
Projections: The Photomontages of Romare Bearden, Madison Art Center, Madison, WI
Projections: The Photomontages of Romare Bearden, Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC

The Painted Sounds of Romare Bearden, Victoria Arts Center, Melbourne Australia
The Painted Sounds of Romare Bearden, Kiame Jazz Festival, Sidney, Australia
The Painted Sounds of Romare Bearden, Walker Hill Art, Center Seoul, Korea
The Painted Sounds of Romare Bearden, Tawain Museum Art, Taipei, Tawain
Winter Group Show, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

The City: New York Visions 1900-1995, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
Bob Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop: Artist's of Color, Museum of History of Art ,Albany, NY
Voices of Conscience: Then and Now, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
Odysseus Suite, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
Romare Bearden: Collage and Watercolor, New Britian Museum of American Art, New Britian, CT

Romare Bearden: Interludes: Sun, Sound and Sky, ACA GAlleries, New York, NY
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Winter Group Exhibition, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

Group Exhibition, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

Group Exhibition, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
Paine Art Center, Oshkosh, WI
Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL
S. Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

Multiple Images: Prints by Afro-Americans, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ

24 Black American Artists, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD
The Human Form, Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, MD

In Celebration: 6 Black Americans, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ

Reflections of a Southern Heritage, Gibbes Art Gallery, Charleston, SC

Twelve Americans: Masters of Collage, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

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