The Woodshed

Artist: Romare Bearden (American, Charlotte, North Carolina 1911–1988 New York)

Date: 1969

Medium: Cut and pasted printed and colored papers, photostats, cloth, graphite, and sprayed ink on Masonite

Dimensions: 40 1/2 x 50 1/2 in. (102.9 x 128.3 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: George A. Hearn Fund, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.19

Rights and Reproduction: Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


Inspired by the memories of his family in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Bearden created domestic scenes that reflect the strength of Southerners under challenging circumstances. Here, a family of four gathers in a run-down shed for a meal and some music. United by everyday rituals, they are also brought together by Bearden's carefully structured format of rectangles and squares. As the artist noted in 1969, such compositions were influenced by his study of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings by Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch: "I came to some understanding of the way these painters controlled their big shapes, even when elements of different size and scale were included within those large shapes….When I begin a work now…I try only to establish the general layout of the composition. When that is accomplished, I attempt ever more definite statements, superimposing other materials over those I started with."