Romare Bearden at the Met
October 19, 2004–March 6, 2005
Drawn exclusively from the Museum's collection of works by the American artist Romare Bearden (1911–1988), this selection showcases his creative versatility in a variety of media. Highlights include the famous six-part collage of Harlem street life, The Block (1971). This masterpiece is Bearden's lively tribute to the New York City neighborhood that nurtured his life and his work. Creating an array of images (both real and imaginary) with collaged materials (fragments of photographs, colorful paper, and cloth), the artist presents an intimate view of Harlem's most important institutions—home, church, barbershop, corner grocery, and funeral parlor.
Bearden's designs also successfully translated into tapestry. Recollection Pond (1975), on view for the first time at the Metropolitan, is a rare example of his work with textiles and was the result of his collaboration with Gloria Ross Tapestries, New York. The intensely colorful landscape—adorned with a beautiful woman, animals, birds, and fish—may recall the Caribbean island of St. Martin, where Bearden and his wife owned a home.
These two works are joined by a small selection of works on paper—including a gouache and watercolor maquette for the tapestry, an oil monotype of New Orleans's red-light district, and a screen print and a collage recalling memories of North Carolina—that highlight the artist's range of subjects and media.