Bayou Fever, The Bayou, 1979

Collage, ink, pencil, and acrylic on fiberboard 

6 x 9 in.

1 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Father Comes Home, 1979

Collage on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

2 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Untitled (Wife and Child in Cabin), 1979

Collage, pencil, and acrylic on fiberboard

6 x 9 in.

3 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Herb Woman, 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

4 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Untitled (The Mother Hears the Train), 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

6 x 9 in.

5 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Swamp Witch, 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard 

9 x 6 in.

6 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Blue Demons, 1979

Collage, acrylic, and pencil on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

7 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Wart Hog, 1979

Collage on fiberboard

18 x 11 in.

8 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Lizard, 1979

Collage, acrylic, and pencil on fiberboard

12 1/2 x 9 in.

9 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Untitled (The Hatchet Man), 1979 

Collage, acrylic, and pencil on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

10 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Buzzard and the Snake, 1979

Collage on fiberboard with attached string and safety pin

9 x 6 in.

11 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Untitled (The Conjur Woman), 1979 

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

6 x 9 in.

12 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Untitled (The Swamp Witch, Blue-Green Lights and Conjur Woman), 1979

Acrylic and collage on fiberboard

6 x 9 in.

13 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Earth and the Magic Drummer, 1979

Acrylic, collage, and pencil on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

14 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Magic Root (Spotted Deer and the Father), 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

6 x 9 in.

15 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Star (Star from the Heavens), 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

16 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Past-Present-Future and Beautiful Dreams, 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

17 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Wisdom, 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

18 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, The Emperor of the Golden Trumpet, 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

9 x 6 in.

19 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Unititled (African Men and Women/Trees), 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

4 1/8 x 6 5/8 in

20 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Bayou Fever, Untitled (All Come Back), 1979

Collage and acrylic on fiberboard

4 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.

21 of 21 works, offered only as a group.

Indigo Snake, 1975

Watercolor and collage on paper

23 x 16 in.

Obeah Woman, 1984-86

Watercolor on paper

29 1/4 x 21 5/8 in.

 

 

Afro-Carib Obeah Man, 1984

Watercolor, gouache, and collage on paper

30 x 22 1/2 in.

 

 

Séance, 1984-86

Watercolor and gouache on paper

29 1/4 x 21 5/8 in.

 

 

No Wish to Know More, 1984

Watercolor, gouache, and collage on paper

29 1/2 x 22 in.

 

 

Obeah in a Trance, 1984

Watercolor and gouache on paper

30 x 19 3/8 in.

Our Eyes Meet, 1984

Watercolor and gouache on paper

30 x 22 1/4 in.

Carnival Figure with Bird, 1984

Watercolor on paper

29 1/4 x 21 3/4 in.

Carnival Eastern Star, 1984-87

Watercolor on paper

29 1/4 x 21 5/8 in.

Carnival Stilt Walker, 1984-87

Watercolor and collage on paper

29 1/4 x 21 3/4 in.

Carnival Jumbie Man, 1984-87

Watercolor on paper

29 1/4 x 21 5/8 in.

Mecklenburg Autumn: Heat Lightning Eastward, 1983

Collage and oil on fiberboard

31 x 40 in.

Mecklenburg Autumn: September - Sky and Meadow, 1983

Collage and oil on fiberboard

30 x 40 in.

Gospel Morning, 1987

Mixed media collage on panel

20 x 24 in.

Expulsion from Paradise, 1/6, 1964

Gelatin silver print (Photostat) mounted on fiberboard

28 x 37 in.

Edition of 6 (edition unrealized)

Prevalence of Ritual/Conjur Woman as an Angel, 1964

Gelatin silver print (Photostat) mounted on fiberboard

38 1/4 x 26 1/4 in.

Edition of 6 (edition unrealized)

Prevalence of Ritual/Tidings, 1/6, 1964

Gelatin silver print (photostat) mounted on fiberboard

27 1/4 x 37 1/4 in.

12 Trains - Heavy Freight, 1974

Unique hand colored photo etching from a series of 12

17 3/4 x 22 1/4 in. (image);

23 1/8 x 29 7/8 in. (paper)

12 Trains - Daybreak Express, 1974

Unique hand colored photo etching from a series of 12

17 3/4 x 22 1/4 in. (image);

23 1/8 x 30 in. (paper)

 

Morning Ablutions, 1975

Collage with acrylic on board

12 1/2 x 16 in.

Green Times Remembered - Recollections Pool, 1970

Collage with acrylic on paper

17 1/2 x 24 in.

The Piano Lesson, 1984

Gouache, watercolor, and collage on paper

27 1/4 x 20 in.

Baptism, 28/50, 1975

Serigraph on paper

32 x 45 in. (image);

36 1/2 x 49 in. (paper)

Edition of 50

Blue Monday, 1969

Collage of various papers on fiberboard, mounted to plywood

12 x 9 in.

Press Release

Opening Reception
Thursday, March 23, 6-8pm

Special Dance Performance of Bayou Fever Breakdown by Dada Masilo
Showtimes: Friday, March 24, 6pm & Saturday, March 25, 6pm
Please RSVP to rjohnson@dcmooregallery.com. More information

DC Moore Gallery’s new exhibition, Romare Bearden: Bayou Fever and Related Works, features a series of twenty-one vibrant collages from 1979 that Bearden conceived for a ballet that invokes African American traditions and the African presence that is deeply rooted in the Louisiana bayou near New Orleans, and elsewhere in North America and the Caribbean. Never before shown in New York, the collages represent the main characters and settings of a performance that he hoped would be choreographed by Alvin Ailey.

Bearden (1911-1988) had worked with Ailey before, most notably two years earlier when he created a scrim for the ballet, Ancestral Voices. He had been interested in dance for some time, as his wife had her own company, the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theater. While the Bayou Fever dance was never performed, the bold imagery of Bearden’s collages speaks to the power of his visual imagination and narrative strength of his original concept.

An illustrated catalog with an essay by Robert O’Meally will be available.

Ritual, magic, and mystery infuse the Bayou Fever series. Much of the storyline centers on a confrontation between the Conjur Woman and the Swamp Witch, in a dramatic struggle between good and evil that plays out in a rural cabin deep in the bayou. Overall, the dance’s imagery incorporates many of the most prominent motifs and elements found in Bearden’s art, including strong women, elders, musicians, Caribbean masquerade figures, domestic interiors, and rural landscapes, in addition to the powerful Conjur Woman. His costume designs for the characters in the dance often combine photos of African masks with pieces of cloth and textiles.

The collages are based on memory for the most part, as was often the case in Bearden’s art. Some refer to his childhood in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, such as The Mother Hears the Train, The Magic Root (Spotted Deer and the Father), The Herb Woman, The Blue Demons, and The Swamp Witch, Blue-Green Lights and Conjur Woman. Others concern his experience in Paris in the early 1950s, especially Star from the Heavens, which alludes to the moment many years earlier when he stood looking at Notre Dame Cathedral in the early morning hours and imagined seeing an angel walking across the Seine.

 

 

 

The additional artworks in the exhibition have been selected to complement the imagery and themes of the Bayou Fever series, and highlight their importance in Bearden’s larger body of work. A key element is traditional African American and African Caribbean belief and religion. In the early 1980s, Bearden explored ritual aspects of Obeah, a religious practice in the Caribbean, which originated in Ghana and is similar to Haitian Vodou. Bearden created Obeah images in a series of bold watercolors, while, Hoodoo, its counterpart in the United States, is reflected in the enigmatic figures of the Conjur Woman and other powerful, mysterious women.

Other religious imagery is significant as well, especially expressions of Christian faith. Images of, baptism, burial and other ceremonies provide references to rituals Bearden saw as fundamental to the African American experience.

Closely related to these more sacred rites are processions and parades, where the religious and the secular often overlap, particularly in places like New Orleans and the surrounding area. Bearden frequently turned his attention to local ceremonies and celebrations, festivals, and carnival figures, a colorful group of which will figure prominently in the show.

Throughout his life, Bearden often acknowledged women’s place at the heart of the African American community. As mothers, sisters, and midwives, as well as healers and herbalists, they were and still are the caretakers of the family and neighborhood, holding important leadership roles throughout the American South, as evidenced in his images of strong, independent women seen throughout the exhibition.

Bearden was also very interested in the communities themselves, both in people united by shared history and culture, and the landscapes that they inhabited. Several of the collages and watercolors will feature views of the rural South and Caribbean countryside.

DC Moore Gallery is the exclusive representative of the Romare Bearden Estate and Romare Bearden Foundation.

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