Romare Bearden: City Lights
September 4 - 27, 2008
DC Moore Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Romare Bearden: City Lights on September 4, 2008. The exhibition features twenty vibrantly expressive watercolors, some with paper collage, that capture the rhythm and energy of New York City. Painted between 1979 and 1986, they literally burst with color that flows across the surface of compact, highly charged compositions. Several of the works on view are from a series of cityscapes done for the opening credits in John Cassavetes’ 1980 film, Gloria.
Romare Bearden (1911-1988) knew New York City well. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, he moved to the city with his family around 1914. Growing up in Harlem, he was surrounded by many of the most creative artists, writers, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance. After serving in the army during World War II and studying in Paris with the help of the GI Bill, he returned to New York and continued to live and work there for most of his life.
Bearden was a master of the watercolor medium. He is perhaps best known for his collages of African American life, which he generally constructed with strips of painted paper and photographs cut from magazines and newspapers. Bearden always considered his collages to be paintings first and foremost, and in fact many of his later works are best characterized as watercolors with collage.
The works in this exhibition are fluidly painted tributes to New York City in vivid hot and cool colors – pinks, oranges, yellows, reds, greens, purples, and blues – that express the intensity of the urban environment. They also evoke musical effects, highlighting Bearden’s lifelong involvement with jazz and blues. Seemingly spontaneous compositions, they pulse with improvisation and interval, rhythm and mood.
Atmospheric skies dominate in several, with a low hanging moon illuminating night scenes like New York, New York. Many feature skylines with river views of bridges and tugboats plying their way, such as Untitled (Buildings, Brooklyn Bridge, and Tug), suggestive of the working-class aspects of the city that were so much a part of Manhattan in the late 70s and early 80s. Others focus on the buildings themselves, in densely packed overlays of soaring structures, or present lively street scenes bustling with human activity, like Midtown Canyon and At Hoy’s. The city is also a backdrop, as in Untitled (Woman Leaning on a Chair), in which a dappled nude poses for the artist in front of a window that frames an urban view.
Recognized as one of the most original visual artists of the twentieth century, Romare Bearden has work in public collections across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Studio Museum in Harlem. He has been the subject of a number of major retrospectives such as those organized by the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina (1980); Detroit Institute of the Arts, Michigan (1986); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (1991); and National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2003).
The exhibition continues through September 27.
DC Moore Gallery is the exclusive representative of the Romare Bearden Foundation and the Romare Bearden Estate.
Also on view - group exhibition:
September 4 – 27, 2008
Featuring works by:
Helen Miranda Wilson