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Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden

*  1914 Charlotte, North Carolina
† 1988 New York

The caricaturist, painter and balladeer Romare Howard Bearden studied between 1932 and 1937 in New York, among others with George Grosz at the Art Students League. In 1943 he switched to the Columbia University in New York and began to study maths, which he cancelled the very same year. Bearden went to Paris to enrol at the Sorbonne for philosophy and history of arts. Interrupted by his military service in the US army the artist remained in Paris until 1954. Several trips led him to Italy, Switzerland, Algeria and Morocco. In 1956 Bearden returned to New York and set up a studio. He became co-founder of the Afro-American artist group ‚Spiral', which attempted to define an Afro-American artistic identity. Furthermore he worked as a director for the Harlem Cultural Council since 1964. In his works Bearden attended to the cultural meaning of religion and folkloristic rituals. In the mid-1950s he passingly turned to abstract painting. The figure reappeared in his works when he produced collages and photo compositions in 1964, with which he gained fame. They mirrored his social engagement for the situation of Afro-Americans in America. Many of his works also showed his interest in jazz and folk music. In 1971 he received a Guggenheim scholarship to write a book on Afro-American arts. The last 15 years of his life he attended mainly to printed graphics. Bearden taught at various institutes, et al. at the Spelman College in Atlanta, Williams College in Williamstown or at Yale-College in New Haven and he became honorary doctor of numerous universities in the USA. Further his creativity was accompanied by many participations in exhibitions, for which Bearden was given much credit especially in the USA.