The art of Romare Bearden has been viewed and influential to many artists, musicians, political figures, scholars, and everyday people. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1911, and soon moved to New York, also spending little time in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, Bearden was raised in a middle class household where both his parents held decent jobs. At an early age Bearden was exposed to great diversity of artists, musicians and writers, his home was a frequent hangout spot for major figures such as Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and many more. Art was not always the main focus of Bearden.
He studied at Boston University where he played baseball and eventually after taking a few art classes he illustrated the cartoons in the Baltimore Newspaper. Bearden also traveled the world to places such as Paris and the Caribbean islands, which all influenced his work to come. He also served in the U. S. army. Being raised in the south and black Harlem New York during the Harlem Renaissance and civil rights would be the birthplace of Bearden’s diverse ideas and extraordinary talents. Bearden became the most original and famous due to his unique collages that he mastered in isolation working methods.
This artwork was displayed in abstract complicated positions and showed intricate details made from magazine and newspaper clippings, as well as foil and different fabrics. Pablo Picasso, Jose Clemente, and Diego Rivera were a few artists that also influenced his work. Romare broke many boundaries and traditional ideas and expectations of artists. He put a unique twist on the already established European collage method by using different techniques such as quilt work, print, many fabrics, textures, nature, landscapes, oils water colors and of course photo montage.
These techniques gave his art a personality a vibe a feeling that made views want more the pieces always had many details and messages. Romare Bearden’s art work was extraordinary enough that his work was seen in museums worldwide but also displayed in books, album covers, and even the city of Berkley, California has a public display in the city council chambers called The City and its People that incorporates the city’s diversity and culture. Romare’s pieces were also easy to relate with. The intersection of art and everyday life such as school, home, clubs and nature ere very obvious in his work, for example in The Block and the Block II his everyday life that he seen on the streets was displayed, from working people to kids playing to mothers looking out their windows holding their baby. He embraced the elements of popular culture at the time, jazz clubs, blues, social realism of African culture, religion and childhood memories were all displayed in his works The Blues, Train Whistle Blues, Palms Sunday Procession, and The Street to name a few. Romare Bearden suffered from bone cancer and passed away in 1988 as a world renowned African American artist, author, songwriter, and award winner.
Although he left his love for art many times, as many artists do, he took a journey and always found a way back to express his love of art embracing culture and society. His works grew and changed throughout his whole life picking up pieces as his environments changed. Bearden displayed the beautiful, the ugly, and the in-betweens of African and African American life with European and Spanish influences along the way. His works were improved and iconic, leaving you wanting to see more of what you have never have seen before.
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