III

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Romare Bearden

Woman and Child Reading, 1977

Lithograph

25.5" x 18.5"


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Woman and Child Reading

© Romare Bearden Foundation
Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


The notion of a black academic tradition in the arts must encompass not only the institutional structures but include the informal alliances and community groups that lent much-needed support to artists who were shut out of the traditional academic world. Romare Bearden played a large role in the nontraditional education of black artists. As early as the 1930s, Bearden was involved in "306 Group," an informal association of black artists in Harlem. It was through this organization that Bearden had his first one-man show. He went on to form alliances with mainstream contemporary galleries in New York but maintained his involvement with black artists. In 1963 Bearden was instrumental in forming the Spiral group, composed of black artists who sought to make a contribution to the civil rights movement. He also served for many years as the art director of the Harlem Cultural Council. Bearden's support of the black artist was manifest in the form of scholarship as well. An advocate of the importance of the history of art, Bearden wrote several books on African American art, including A History of African-American Artists, published posthumously in 1993.

Untitled(Verso), 1977
Lithograph
25.5" x 18"

© Romare Bearden Foundation Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Given to David Driskell by the artist in 1983, the lithographs Woman and Child Reading and Untitled are unusual in that they are printed on both sides of the same paper. The multilayering of colors and shapes results in the collage-like treatment of form that is his signature style.   A. L. C.

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