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Romare Bearden: About

Romare Bearden


Who was Romare Bearden?

Romare Bearden is considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th century. He depicted aspects of Black culture in a Cubist style. Considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden’s artwork depicted the African American culture and experience in creative and thought-provoking ways. Born in North Carolina in 1911, Bearden spent much of his career in New York City. Virtually self-taught, his early works were realistic images, often with religious themes. He later transitioned to abstract and Cubist style paintings in oil and watercolor. He is best known for his photomontage compositions made from torn images of popular magazines and assembled into visually powerful statements on African American life.

Born September 2, 1911, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bearden was the only child of Richard and Bessye Bearden. The family moved to New York City when he was a toddler. Bessye was a reporter for a leading Black newspaper and eventually become president of the Negro Women’s Democratic Association. The household was a gathering place for Harlem Renaissance luminaries such as W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington. 

After graduating from high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was living with his maternal grandmother, Bearden played a little semi-pro baseball in Boston. He returned to New York City to attend college, with plans to go to medical school. He majored in science at New York University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. But while there, he worked on the school humor magazine as a cartoonist and in his senior became its editor. After college he joined a Black artist group and became excited about modern art, particularly Cubism, Futurism, post-Impressionism and Surrealism. He traveled to France to study at the Sorbonne. Continue reading from Biography

From our Collection

Link to Romare Bearden in the homeland of his imagination : an artist's reckoning with the South by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore in the catalog
Link to Romare Bearden : the Caribbean dimension by Sally Price in the catalog
Link to Romare Bearden, American modernist edited by Ruth Fine and Jacqueline Francis in the catalog
Link to The art of Romare Bearden by Ruth Fine in the catalog
Link to A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present by Romare Bearden in the catalog
Link to Picasso to Warhol : fourteen modern masters by Jodi Hauptman in the catalog

Link to Revolutionary Biographies Resource Guide Series