Romare Bearden: Master Painter

The complex and colorful art of Romare Bearden (1911-1988) is autobiographical and metaphorical. Rooted in the history of western, African, and Asian art, as well as in literature and music, Bearden found his primary motifs in personal experiences and the life of his community. Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Bearden moved as a toddler to New York City, participating with his parents in the Great Migration of African Americans to states both north and west. The Bearden home became a meeting place for Harlem Renaissance luminaries including writer Langston Hughes, painter Aaron Douglas, and musician Duke Ellington, all of whom undoubtedly would have stimulated the young artist's imagination.

Bearden maintained a lifelong interest in science and mathematics, but his formal education was mainly in art, at Boston University and New York University, from which he graduated in 1935 with a degree in education. He also studied at New York's Art Students League with the German immigrant painter George Grosz, who reinforced Bearden's interest in art as a conveyor of humanistic and political concerns. In the mid-1930s Bearden published dozens of political cartoons in journals and newspapers, including the Baltimore based Afro-American, but by the end of the decade he had shifted the emphasis of his work to painting. (more)

I am afraid, despite my intentions, that in some instances commentators have tended to overemphasize what they believed to be the social elements in my work. But while my response to certain human elements is as obvious as it is inevitable, I am also pleased to note that upon reflection many persons have found that they were as much concerned with the aesthetic implications of my paintings as with, what may possibly be, my human compassion.
- Romare Bearden

Things which we need to preserve, cultivate, and cherish, Recognize Great Black Art! I remember my first collage and my mom told me it reminded her of one of Romare's works, she didnt say picasso, gris, or leger like many of my teachers always chimed... my joint reminded mom's of Bearden, so he became one of my many inspirations, a reason to do great works of art, the reason why I appreciate art, the reason why I am a work of art.

Images ands words courtesy of The National Gallery of Art and The Romare Bearden Foundation

Inspiration is all around us.