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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Book Review: Romare Bearden

The Art of Romare Bearden by Ruth Fine was published in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Art in 2004. This is a wonderful book with essays on his life and work, as well as many magnificent illustrations, which include oil and gouache paintings as well as the collages for which he is best known. Many years ago I walked into the Gerald Melberg gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina, and saw Bearden's collage work, which had been part of a recent show. Later, friends took me to the public library to see an impressive piece he had done. I was especially interested in showing something of his work in the collage book I was working on. Unfortunately, the attorney for the estate was uncooperative, so I couldn't use the wonderful transparency Mr. Mehlberg had sent me. Nevertheless, I was so pleased to have a student bring this book to my collage workshop last year and I "had to have it" for my library. I've read the interesting text, but mostly I just love to browse the pictures. Bearden's work shows influences of his African-American experience in the South as well as the Harlem Renaissance and a post-World War II residency in Paris. I love his brilliant patterns and colors.

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