Romare Bearden

The Whitney is probably one of my favorite museums in New York.  The exhibits are generally small and powerful.  The size generally sticks to one floor per exhibit.  Sometimes I ramble through all the floors and other times I go just to see one exhibit which is just perfect.  Also, as I look back at years of exhibits I have seen at the Whitney, they curators have usually been pushing the envelope.  For instance, many years ago I went to the museum and on one floor was a Cindy Sherman exhibit, another floor was an Alex Katz exhibit.  Looking back, those artists are still making their mark on art today.  So, needless to say, pretty impressive.

Our oldest daughter is going up to the Whitney next week to see the Romare Bearden exhibit next week so I figured I’d get up there first so we can talk about it.   I admit, I knew nothing about this artist.  After seeing the exhibit, shame on me. 

What a truly inspirational exhibit.  If I was an artist, I’d probably go home and work for days on end in my studio.  Prolific is an understatement.  The exhibit takes you from the beginnings of his work to the end of his life.  He grew started his life in North Carolina and migrated to Harlem during the Jim Crow days.  His family was a very successful and educated but they were African American and a mixed marriage and living in North Carolina at one point wasn’t so safe.  So, off to Harlem them went.  He continued to visit his Grandparents in the south on a yearly basis who made quite an impact in his life.

Through his work, you can see all of these parts of his life.  His influences come through.  He is probably best known for his collages which are cut out of magazines, newspapers and incorporated with paint and drawings but he also took the collages to another level with fabrics that he sewed together.  The watercolors are also magnificent.  Some of his works are obviously affected by living in Paris for a year.  You can see the abstract works of Picasso in his paintings. 

The pieces range in size from small to quite large.  The works represent modern.  They could have been made yesterday as easily as they could have been made 50 years ago. 

This was an exhibit absolutely worth going to.  I purchased the book of the exhibit as I usually like to keep books of the exhibits I have been to over the year.  I showed our 8 year old boy when we got home, he loved the work!  The musician pieces he oohed and aahed over.  I think another trip up to the Whitney might be in order before the closing on January 9th.