Romare Bearden

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Unquestionably one of the most celebrated American artists of the twentieth century, Romare Bearden (1911–1988) was a master of the graphic arts.

About the Artist

“Romare Bearden’s artwork depicted the African-American culture and experience in creative and thought provoking ways. Born in North Carolina in 1912, Bearden spent much of his career in New York City. Virtually self-taught, his early works were realistic images, often with religious themes. He later transitioned to abstract and Cubist style paintings in oil and watercolor. He is best known for his photomontage compositions made from torn images of popular magazines and assembled into visually powerful statements on African-American life.

“After graduating from high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was living with his maternal grandmother, Bearden played a little semi-pro baseball in Boston. He returned to New York City to attend college, with plans to go to medical school. He majored in science at New York University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. But while there, he worked on the school humor magazine as a cartoonist and in his senior became its editor. After college he joined a black artist group and became excited about modern art, particularly Cubism, Futurism, post-Impressionism and Surrealism. He traveled to France to study at the Sorbonne.

Romare Bearden was drafted into the United States Army in 1942 and served in the all black 372nd Infantry Regiment until May 1945. After his return to civilian life, Bearden got a job as a New York City social case worker to supplement his income as an artist. In 1954 he married Nanette Rohan, 27 years his junior, who was an accomplished dancer and founder of the New York Chamber Dance Company.

“By age 58, Bearden had reached a level of recognition (and income) that he was able to become a full-time artist with his own studio. He earned grants and commissions and was often a visiting professor at universities. By the 1960s, his medium of choice had moved from painting to collages, though he continued to paint large scale murals and series pieces for museum and gallery exhibitions. Though he was still working in his studio, Bearden contracted bone cancer and on March 12, 1988 died in New York City. In the last few years of his life, Bearden and his wife made plans for a foundation that would aid in the education and training of talented art students. The Romare Bearden opened in 1990. ” (From

About the Book


Unquestionably one of the most celebrated American artists of the twentieth century, Romare Bearden (1911–1988) was a master of the graphic arts. This catalogue raisonné of prints focuses on the enormous range of the artist’s works from the 1930s through the 1980s.

An intrepid innovator and experimenter in printmaking techniques, as well as a consummate storyteller, Bearden incorporated the panoply of art history, from the Old Masters to the Cubism of Picasso and Braque, in his artmaking. Drawing on biblical history, classical mythology, African and Asian art, and popular American culture, his subjects came from his own life experiences in the rural South, the urban North, and the timeless rhythms of the Caribbean.

Contributors include the director of the Romare Bearden Foundation, Diedra Harris-Kelley; Allan Edmunds, acting director of and founder of Brandywine Workshop; Jerald Melberg, former curator at the Mint Museum of Art who, together with his wife Mary, has provided significant support for the visual arts for over 40 years; and David Driskell, artist, author, and scholar in the field of American art, and a recipient, in 2000, of the National Humanities Medal.


11 x 12 inches, 462 pages
255 color plates, plus 10 black and white

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