Romare Bearden (1914-1988)

Romare Bearden, Mrs. Loumis, 1986, watercolor, 12.5 x 9.5 inches, signed lower right

Romare Bearden is one of the most celebrated artists in the United States. In the St. James Guide to Black Artists, Dorothy Valakos says that the wellsprings of Bearden’s work are, “the ceremonial dimension of the everyday lives of people of color, at work, at church, at play; and the blues aesthetic, the affirmation of the black experience through the dissonant, elegant, soaring, and plaintive textures, voices, and rhythms of jazz.”

Valakos also quotes Bearden as saying that daily life in the black communities he experienced was “perhaps the richest because it is the one lifestyle that is talking about life and about the continuation of life…and through all the anguish-the joy of life.”

Some of the sources she cites are his boyhood spending summers in Mecklenberg County, North Carolina, his grandmother’s boarding house near steel mills in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Harlem.

Bearden’s work has been in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States including the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

His work was also part of an exhibit at the Galerie Albert Loeb in Paris, France. But perhaps his crowning achievement was being the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Bearden’s work is many important collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pensnsylvania.