I Live in Music - after Romare Bearden
14 x 14 Oil Painting on Canvas
Art within Art
Romare Bearden grew up in the Harlem of the 1920s and 30’s when that glittering neighborhood was the epicenter of the jazz universe. As early as the 1940s, jazz musicians appeared in his work, and by the 1950s he was seeking visual translations for what he heard in the structures of jazz - its improvised lines, rhythms, and textures.
The way Bearden worked was jazz. “You have to begin somewhere,” he said, “so you put something down. Then you put something else with it…Once you get going, all sorts of things begin to open up.”
The way the pianist Earl Hines spaced his notes suggested to Bearden ways of spacing lines and colors in art. “Silences” between visual elements became vital to Bearden’s art. On silences in the music, Bearden’s friend the drummer Max Roach has said, “It’s not that there’s necessarily nothing going on. There’s always a pulse there. There are times when there’s nothing but the pulse…. Bearden’s paintings are like that.”
Romare Howard Bearden was born on September 2, 1911, to (Richard) Howard and Bessye Bearden in Charlotte, North Carolina, and died in New York City on March 12, 1988, at the age of 76. His life and art are marked by exceptional talent, encompassing a broad range of intellectual and scholarly interests, including music, performing arts, history, literature and world art. Bearden was also a celebrated humanist, as demonstrated by his lifelong support of young, emerging artists.
Recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the twentieth century, Romare Bearden had a prolific and distinguished career. He experimented with many different mediums and artistic styles, but is best known for his richly textured collages, two of which appeared on the covers of Fortune and Time magazines, in 1968. An innovative artist with diverse interests, Bearden also designed costumes and sets for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and programs, sets and designs for Nanette Bearden's Contemporary Dance Theatre.
Bearden was the recipient of many awards and honors throughout his lifetime. Honorary doctorates were given by Pratt Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Davidson College and Atlanta University, to name but a few. He received the Mayor's Award of Honor for Art and Culture in New York City in 1984 and the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Ronald Reagan, in 1987