Van Gogh •
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Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He
attended schools in Pittsburgh and New York and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University before studying with George Grosz at the Art Students League. Bearden's early work was predominately social-realist in style, which was particularly well suited to the spirit of the 1930's. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Bearden began to paint in a semi-abstract style, applying paint flatly. During this period of his career Stuart Davis, Walter Quirt, and Paul Burlin were among his closest associates. In 1950, while studying in Paris on the G.I. bill, Bearden came into contact with Georges Braque, Fernand Leger, Helion, and Brancusi.
After returning to the United States, Bearden worked for a brief period as a professional songwriter and then for the Welfare Department. He began to exhibit his paintings again in 1960, and received much critical success. He first showed his collage projections in 1964 and says of them that they are the response to a need he felt to "redefine the image of man in terms of the Negro experience I know best ... the Negro was becoming too much of an abstraction, rather than the reality that art can give a subject." Critical opinion of Bearden's work places him among the great contemporary painters.
His color has been called "sumptuous and subtle;" luminous in its grays, brick reds, and blues. His paintings are poetic syntheses, full of a restrained tension. The projections are composed in mosaic fashion, the squares alternately seeming to leap forward or retreat in patterns mingling thought and emotion. Bearden has had important one-man shows at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., and at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He received the National Academy of Arts and Letters Award for painting in 1967. Along with Carroll Greene, Bearden co-directed an exhibition held at City College of New York, called "Evolution of Afro-American Art". He did covers for "Fortune" and "Time" magazines, and showed his posters at various international festivals. Carl Hotly and Bearden co-authored a book called "The Painter's Mind".