John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

Art on Sunday: Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

Yesterday I dropped in at the Chazen Museum of Art here in Madison to take a look at a new exhibition, Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey. If you have an exceptionally good memory, you may recall I've featured a couple of his works in this journal during my 2004 and 2007 Advent art projects. The important thing, of course, is that I remembered, so when I saw the announcement about the exhibit, my interest was naturally piqued.

Over the course of his career, Bearden produced many works inspired by the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, a large number of which are featured in the exhibition. I was particularly interested by his series of ink drawings based on Iliad, simply because I was unaware that he'd ever worked in that medium. I knew him as a collage artist, but the Iliad drawings prove he was a master draftsman as well.

Romare Bearden (1911-1988)
Untitled Works from the Iliad Series, 1946
Ink on paper
Untitled Work from the Iliad Series Untitled Work from the Iliad Series
Courtesy Estate of Nanette Bearden and DC Moore Gallery, New York. Currently on display in the traveling exhibition Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey at the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin.

It's incredible how much power and dynamism Bearden is able to convey with so few strokes of his pen.

The bulk of the exhibition is devoted to Bearden's 1977 series of collages based on Odyssey and his 1978 watercolors of the collages. Bearden was African-American, and portraying the characters with black skin and incorporating traditional African art styles into the colleges, he hoped to emphasize the universality of stories from classical mythology and draw parallels between Odysseus's journey with the Great Migration and the displacement of American Indians.

Poseidon, the Sea God--Enemy of Odysseus and Circe, 1977
Collage of various papers with foil, paint and graphite on fiberboard
Poseidon Circe
The Thompson Collection, Indianapolis / Courtesy Estate of Nanette Bearden and DC Moore Gallery, New York.
Currently on display in the traveling exhibition Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey at the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wis.


Battle with Cicones, 1977
Collage of various papers with graphite on fiberboard
Battle with Cicones
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire
Currently on display in the traveling exhibition Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey at the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wis.


In short, I thought this was an excellent exhibition and one that's well worth visiting if you have the chance. It'll be here in Madison through November 24; after that, it will be at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta from December 14, 2013 through March 9, 2014; the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H., from March 29, 2014, through June 22, 2014; and finally at Columbia University's Wallach Art Gallery in New York from July 12, 2014, through October 5, 2014. Check it out!
 
Tags: art: collage, art: illustration, excursions, wisconsin: madison
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