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Books and Sketchbooks Reveal A Painter's Mind: Selections from the Library of Romare Bearden" at National Gallery of Art, Companion Exhibition to The Art of Romare Bearden, September 14, 2003 - January 4, 2004

Washington, DC—A Painter's Mind: Selections from the Library of Romare Bearden, a small companion exhibition to the major retrospective The Art of Romare Bearden, on view at the National Gallery of Art, September 14, 2003 - January 4, 2004, provides an intimate perspective on the artist's interests and influences, social and intellectual networks, and--with holes cut into some pages--the actual material of his collages.

Exhibition curator Ruth Fine and National Gallery of Art executive librarian Neal Turtell selected the 36 objects in A Painter's Mind from the thousands of books and journals in the artist's library, which remains intact at the Romare Bearden Foundation in New York.

The exhibition is divided into 5 sections: Works by and about Bearden; Sketchbooks and Journals; Bearden the Composer; Influences on Bearden's Work; and Books Inscribed to Bearden. Highlights include:

Inscriptions from friends such as writer Albert Murray ("To my good old image making buddy Romy/ some sketch pad notes for an all-American panorama"), as well as from Ralph Ellison (in his classic Invisible Man) and artist/teacher George Grosz;

Sketchbooks revealing diverse influences--from a detailed schematic analysis of a work by Giotto to a strong line drawing of a jazz ensemble;

Original sheet music for "Sea Breeze" (the Bearden song is included on Branford Marsalis' new CD);

A rare catalogue from an exhibition of work by the 1960s Civil Rights era Spiral group of African-American artists;

Illustrations for children's books and a volume of Derek Walcott's poems.

General Information

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A Painter's Mind: Selections from the Library of Romare Bearden at National Gallery of Art

Weekend Jazz Brunch and Southern Cuisine at Cascade Café

Related Activities

Curator Biography

Ruth Fine
(Retired) Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Online Resources

Exhibition Page

Blues and Dreams:
A Citywide Celebration

in Washington, DC

Li'l Dan, The Drummer Boy
A Civil War Story
(Book and CD)

Questions from members of the media may be directed to the Department of Communications at (202) 842-6353 or [email protected]

The public may call (202) 737-4215 or visit for more information about the National Gallery of Art.