With all the media hype these days about "art star" Damien Hirst and his tedious spot paintings, I was thrilled to read a recent article by Holland Cotter in the NYTimes about Romare Bearden. It is the centennial year of his birth and quite a few exhibitions of his work are appearing around the country including several in New York. Bearden is the real art star, in my opinion.
Here are some interesting facts about Romare Bearden I learned from Cotter's article:
1. Bearden was fortunate in being part of a culturally alert family, in getting a multilayered education and in having talents that extended beyond art to writing (he was a jazz lyricist) and social organizing (he became a founder of the Studio museum).
2. For almost three decades, until he was in his late 50s, he held a full-time job as a case worker in the New York City Social Services Department, with studio time available only at night and on weekends.
3. His generosity toward other, often younger artists was legendary.
4. The making of art did not come easily to him.
5. More than a decade of art making would pass, and a string of formal experiments, before Bearden would finally claim collage, considered his genius, as his primary medium.
Here are some examples of Romare Bearden's work: