In honour of Black History Month, join me in observing and celebrating the work of Romare Bearden. Though not a household name (unless your household is really cool), Bearden was an influential artist and major figure of the Harlem Renaissance. After graduating from New York University with a degree in education, he served in World War II. His time in Europe, followed by later studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, impressed a European influence on his oils and watercolours. That, coupled with his love of jazz and his time spent with Harlem musicians, produced a series of vibrant masterpieces.
The 1960s Civil Rights Movement saw works of increased social commentary. Large murals, which today can be found anywhere from the Berkeley City Council Chambers (see Berkeley – The City and Its People below) to subway stations in Baltimore and New York City.
It was also during the sixties that he began experimenting with collages in his work, combining his trademark painting style with clippings that he’d cut out of magazines (The Block). In Patchwork Quilt, he’d incorporate patches of real cloth into the painting.
Romare Bearden’s striking imagery represented a time, a place, and a community that will continue to be celebrated.