Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1911, Romare Bearden, by the time of his death in 1988, had achieved a stature attained by few artists during their lifetimes. He was, and is, considered America’s greatest collagist, and was thus honored by receiving the National Medal of Arts in 1987. The artist’s works are in the permanent collections of many American museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York City. Retrospectives of Bearden’s art have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art; the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina; the Detroit Institute, Michigan; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Throughout his life, Bearden depicted many rituals and social customs of twentieth century rural Black America. The images of spiritual ceremonies, baptisms and burial, industrial hardships, musical arrangements, and daily life have become the themes that critics and collectors most frequently associate with his work. Visually and emotionally stimulating, Romare Bearden’s collages and prints are beautiful to behold and fantastic to contemplate.