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Romare Bearden

Charlotte, North Carolina 1914 - New York 1988


Romare Howard Bearden, caricaturist, painter and songwriter, studied from 1932 to 1937 in New York among others under George Grosz at the Art Students League. In 1943 Bearden transfered to Columbia University, New York, where he began to study mathematics, only to give it up again in the same year.
Romare Bearden went to Paris to enrol at the Sorbonne for philosophy and history of art. Interrupted only by his military service in the US army, the artist remained in Paris until 1954. Several trips led him to Morocco, Algeria, Italy and Switzerland. In 1956 Bearden returned to New York, where he set up a studio.
Together with others, he founded the artists' group "Spiral", which tried to define an Afro-American artistic identity. From 1964 he has worked as Art Director of the Harlem Cultural Council. In his works the artist deals with the cultural meaning of religion and folkloristic rituals.
Around the mid-fifties he temporarily turned to nonrepresentational painting. When he started producing collages and photomontages from 1964 onwards, he reintroduced the figure to his works. They reflect Bearden's social committment for the situation of the Afro-Americans in the US. The artist's interest in jazz and folk music is reflected in many of his works.
In 1971 Romare Bearden received a Guggenheim scholarship to write a book on Afro-American art. During the last 15 years of his life he mainly focused on print. Bearden taught at various institutes such as the Spelman College, Atlanta, Williams College, Williamstown and Yale College, New Haven. He received honorary doctorates from numerous US universities. Furthermore his creative career was accompanied by many contributions to exhibitions and awards, which earned Romare Bearden great acceptance, particularly in the USA.


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