Skip to Main Content

The Art of Romare Bearden

September 14, 2003 – January 4, 2004
East Building Upper Level

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: The 131 works in this comprehensive retrospective of Romare Bearden's work included paintings, drawings, and watercolors, monotypes and edition prints, collages, photostats, wood sculpture, designs for record albums, costumes and stage sets, and book illustrations. Many of the works represented places where Bearden lived and worked including the rural south, Pittsburgh, New York, and the Caribbean island of St. Martin. The exhibition was drawn from more than 85 museums and private collections.

A companion display, A Painter's Mind: Selections from the Library of Romare Bearden, was on view in the Gallery's library. The display was drawn from the artist's library, which remains intact at the Romare Bearden Foundation, New York. Included were 36 books and journals with inscriptions to the artist, scholarly discussions of his work, and the artist's own notes and clippings.

An audio tour was narrated by National Gallery of Art Director Earl A. Powell III, with commentary by musicians Wynton and Branford Marsalis, exhibition curator Ruth Fine, and David Driskell, professor of art, emeritus, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. The Art of Romare Bearden, a 12-minute film on Bearden's life produced by the National Gallery, was shown continuously in the exhibition. An expanded 30-minute version of the film was shown in the large auditorium.

In special auditorium programs on October 18 and November 2, called Bearden Remembered, artists, colleagues, family, and friends discussed Romare Bearden's art, career, and impact on modern art and culture.

The National Gallery of Art and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosted a Bearden workshop for approximately 400 teachers. A Bearden Community Festival on September 20 presented art activities, films, music, and storytelling. A Family Weekend on November 8 and 9 featured drop-in programs in the East Building. Visitors also had the opportunity to participate in the D.C. elementary schools' community mural project on display at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. The exhibition inspired jazz brunch offered on weekends in the East Building Terrace Cafe.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art at the National Gallery, was curator. She and executive librarian Neal Turtell selected works for the companion display in the library.

Sponsor: The exhibition was made possible by AT&T. It was supported in part by Chevy Chase Bank. The film was made possible by HRH Foundation.

Teaching packet: The Art of Romare Bearden: A Resource for Teachers, by Carla Brenner, Heidi Hinish, and Barbara Moore. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2003.

Attendance: 187,607

Catalog: The Art of Romare Bearden, by Ruth Fine et al. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2003.

Brochure: The Art of Romare Bearden, by Ruth Fine. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2003.

The Art of Romare Bearden Children's Guide, by Heidi Hinish. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2003.

Other Venues: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, February 7–May 16, 2004
Dallas Museum of Art, June 20–September 12, 2004
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 14, 2004–January 9, 2005
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, January 29–April 24, 2005

Bearden, Romare
American, 1911 - 1988
A Bearden Celebration
Audio, Released: February 25, 2014, (111:09 minutes)