Romare Bearden American, 1911-1988
“Romare Bearden has gained prominence in the last two decades through his artistic achievements as a collagist. He has raised the medium of collage to a mode of expression so intensely personal that it is difficult to think of another artist so closely associated with it.”
Romare Bearden’s work in painting and collage helped shape the aesthetic of postwar America, influencing generations of painters from his roots in the Harlem Renaissance to late-twentieth century painters and illustrators. His first show was in 1940 at Addison Bates’ gallery in Harlem, a major center of African–American art and culture. Bearden took instruction from George Grosz at the Art Students League and supplemented his degree in science and education at New York University. His early work in a Social Realist mode gave way over the years to a refined collage technique that drew from mosaic tradition as readily as modernist collage. Over the following decades, his collage technique grew to embrace a variety of media, layering cut paper along with paint and drawing, earning him The New York Times’ laurel, “the nation’s foremost collagist. ” [C. Gerald Fraser, “Romare Bearden, Collagist and Painter, Dies at 75,” in The New York Times, Mar. 13, 1988].