Romare Bearden’s Collages

In class today, I found it super interesting to look at the comparative methods of collage that different artists used. One example that caught my eye especially was “Tomorrow I May Be Far Away” by Romare Bearden whose collages captured and commented on African American life. After doing some additional research on him, I found out that his work was influenced both by high modernists like Henri Matisse and by African slave crafts such as patchwork quilts and the usage of random materials due to the lack there of. If we think about Bearden’s work in the context of the definition provided to us in class today of collage – a form of visual art that assembles different forms resulting in a new whole – we can see how he collected different fragments, torn photographs and magazines, to create a powerful message on the African American experience.

Below, I’ve attached a small selection from his larger work called “The Block”, which depicts an entire block of buildings made from collage.  I found this one particularly interesting because of how he depicts different figures with different materials. The figures on the ground, carrying the coffin to the car and congregating outside, don’t have features that are distinguishable and are made from the same blue and white print-like material. This is juxtaposed to the face imbedded into the building on the left, which is an African American human child’s face. It makes the viewer wonder if that face, which is of a completely different scale and material, is meant to be more representative than literal.

Works Cited:

Working Title/Artist: The Block
Department: Modern Art
HB/TOA Date Code:
Working Date: 1971
photography by mma 1992, transparency #3c
scanned and retouched by film and media (jn) 8_25_04

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