The Corner Forum
Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003
Issue #51

Romare Bearden Exhibit Should Be Visited by All

By Thomas J. Woody

1338 Emerald St. NE

Although I have had the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art in Washington on numerous occasions, this last visit experiencing the art of Romare Bearden has been the icing on the cake. The experience is one that will last a lifetime.

A bold and brilliant artist, Romare Bearden created collages and paintings of stunning humanity in which he aimed to do nothing less than "to redefine the image of man" in terms of the African American experience.

Born in Charlotte, N.C., Romare spent the formative years of his youth in Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Harlem, where he knew such luminaries as Countee Cullen, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and Langston Hughes during the Harlem Renaissance.

He ventured upon a lifelong study of art, gathering inspiration from such wide-ranging influences as cubism, social realism and the Italian Renaissance. His collages, watercolors, paintings and prints are richly textured with visual metaphors from his past, and he was successful enough to have his first solo exhibit by 1940.

After experimenting with many different mediums and styles, Mr. Bearden expressed his unique vision in collage. He was deeply impassioned about the people, places, issues and ideas that shaped the world. As an artist, he translated these passions to canvas and paper and left an incredible body of work that continues today to garner admiration and critical attention.

Mr. Bearden was an artist, educator, author and theorist, and a benefactor who helped African American artists establish their careers. He also addressed the need to document the unwritten and often forgotten history of African Americans. Mr. Bearden is recognized as one of the most creative visual artists of the twentieth century.

Mr. Bearden's work is included in important public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others. His radiant watercolor "He Has Risen" earned the honor of a place in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.

The internationally renowned American of African American heritage died in 1988, at the age of 76. Two films are also shown in conjunction with the exhibit, tracing the artist's career and works. The films and exhibit are a must-see for everyone, and I can't wait to go again and again.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 4, and I personally advise all to make plans to attend. For additional information, call 737-4215 concerning exhibits and 842-6799 concerning films. §