Prominent American artist Romare Bearden is celebrated for his emblematic collages, which were produced from 1964 to 1988 and illustrated the history, culture and tension of the African American experience. While he is known for these works, some of Bearden’s earlier work experimented with abstracting forms. This period in his career created works that became the foundation of his acclaimed collages. These early abstractions are often overlooked, and many remain omitted from retrospectives of his work – until now. This fall, Neuberger Museum of Art’s Romare Bearden: Abstraction will provide the first scholarly examination and public viewing of Bearden’s largely unknown body of work that was created in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The exhibition, on view through December 22, will feature approximately forty of Bearden’s abstractions, thereby revealing his artistic roots, but also contributing to the postwar American art narrative. The works on view include large stain paintings such as Green Torches Welcome New Ghosts and Eastern Gate, which demonstrate a technique of applying thinned oil by brushing, pouring and spraying. Bearden’s watercolors and oil paintings Blue Ridge and Mountains of the Moon, from the mid-1950s, demonstrate his abstract image-based painting. Collages like River Mist inform his later figurative works and are comprised of elements that have been cut, and then fitted together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Also on view at Neuberger Museum of Art are Janet Biggs: A Step On the Sun (on view through December 22) and A Studio in the Gallery: The Playful Universe of Ignacio Iturria (on view through February 25). For more info, visit: neuberger.org.
Image above: River Mist by Romare Bearden (The Romare Bearden Foundation, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, NY © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)
A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.