EVENING OF THE GRAY CAT, Romare Bearden, Created: 1982, Collage on board. Gift of Bank of America. 2002.68.3. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. www.vagarights.com


Shortly after he was born in Charlotte, Romare Bearden’s family relocated to Harlem. The time he spent immersed in the vibrancy of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s forever influenced his career as a visual artist. Especially important was the effect of Harlem’s jazz scene, many of whose members were close friends of the artist and his family. For Bearden, jazz, the blues, and folk music were always cultural subjects that epitomized the Black experience. Yet, music was also a creative stimulant for Bearden. He often equated the visual arts to music and the painter to the musician. “The more I just played around with visual notions as if I were improvising like a jazz musician,” he once explained, “the more I realized what I wanted to do as a painter, and how I wanted to do it.” This exhibition explores and celebrates the impact music had on the visual harmony in Romare Bearden’s work.