Bearden, Romare (Howard)
(born Sept. 2, 1914, Charlotte, N.C., U.S.died March 11, 1988, New York City) American painter whose collages of photographs and painted paper on canvas depict aspects of American black culture in a style derived from Cubism.
Bearden studied at the Art Students League in New York City with George Grosz (193637) and at Columbia University (1943). His early paintings were realistic and often religious in theme (e.g., The Annunciation, 1942). After military service during World War II, he lived in Paris (195051), studied at the Sorbonne, and traveled extensively in Europe. During this period he developed his mature, semiabstract collage style. He first achieved recognition in the mid-1940s, and by the 1960s he had come to be regarded as the preeminent collagist in the United States.
The narrative structure of Bearden's paintings is simple and archetypal; ritual, music, and family are his pervasive themes. His works' complexity lies in their poetic abstraction, in which layered fragments of colour and pattern evoke the rhythms, textures, and mysteries of a people's experience (e.g., in Family, 1969).
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