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Photo of Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden

Born: 1911

Died: 1988

Romare Bearden, one of the most important African American artists of the twentieth century, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and raised in Harlem, New York. As was the case for another African American artist, Jacob Lawrence. Bearden grew up in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, a literary movement of notable writers and poets that centered on black culture.

Bearden studied art in New York during the 1930s, asking in an important essay that African American artists give voice to their own distinctive experiences. Gaining recognition during the 1940s and achieving international status by the 1960s, he made his memories of life in the South and in Harlem the basis of his art. His art and that of Lawrence parallel the spirit of American Scene Painting, which in the 1930s recorded and commemorated regional identities, most especially that of the Midwest. In the 1960s, Bearden experimented with a variety of collage techniques that became his signature medium. His later style captures the syncopation and liveliness of American jazz, playing upon caricature and the fragmentation of forms associated with Cubism.