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Romare Bearden's The Block and Related Drawings On View at Metropolitan Museum Beginning January 15

Romare Bearden's vibrant mural-size tableau The Block (1971) and related sketches and photographs will be featured at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning January 15, 2010, in a small installation of works from the collection. The Block, an ambitious 18-foot-long collage, celebrates the Harlem neighborhood in New York City that nurtured and inspired so much of the artist's life and work. Romare Bearden (1911–1988) is best known for the colorful cut-paper collages that he began making in the 1960s. Elaborate works such as The Block (1971) elevated this genre to a major art form through its unusual materials, expressionist color, abstracted forms, flattened shapes and spaces, and shifts in perspective and scale—all the while maintaining focus on the human narrative being told within a single city block.

Bearden described The Block in 1971: "…I was intrigued by the series of houses I could see from [the] windows. Their colors, their forms, and the lives they contained within their walls fascinated me. When I sketched this block, I was looking at a particular street [Lenox Avenue between 132nd and 133rd streets], but as I translated it into visual form it became something else. I lost the literalness and moved into where my imagination took me." Bearden's collage technique—a mixture of bold colors, large and small shapes, and diverse patterns—captures the energy of city life.

On view to the public for the first time are 11 of Bearden's preliminary sketches for The Block, which reveal his close attention to architectural detail and human gesture. Also on display are two photographs of Lenox Avenue, taken in about 1971 by Bearden's friend, the writer Albert Murray. The drawings and photographs were part of the 2005 bequest of William S. Lieberman (1923–2005), former chairman of the Metropolitan's Department of Modern Art.

Romare Bearden's The Block is organized by Lisa Messinger, Associate Curator in the Museum's Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.

In conjunction with this installation, audio commentary on Romare Bearden's work will be available as a stop on the Metropolitan's Audio Guide program. The Block will also be featured on the Museum's website at www.metmuseum.org.

The opening of The Block is timed in anticipation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 18, when the Museum will be open for a Met Holiday Monday.

Romare Bearden's The Block also coincides with the celebration of Black History Month, in February. The Museum will offer gallery talks about this work on the following days: February 3 at 2 p.m., February 11 at 10 a.m., February 18 at 3:30 p.m., and February 26 at 6 p.m. Please see below for a full listing of programs for Black History Month.

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A Celebration of Black History Month
February 2010

All programs are free with Museum admission unless otherwise noted.


Romare Bearden's The Block
Opened January 15, 2010
Modern Art, first floor

This small focus-show from the Museum's collection features Romare Bearden's muralsize collage, The Block (1971), and a dozen preliminary sketches and photographs for this project that were recently given to the Museum and are being shown for the firsttime. As a group, they reveal the artist's creative process whereby he literally and figuratively "collages" different images and experiences from reality and from his memory and imagination into a tableau that transcends the limitations of a fixed time and place, even as it pays homage to a specific street in Harlem, the New York City neighborhood that inspired so much of Bearden's work.


Sweet Honey In The Rock

Friday, March 5, 7:00: $40
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

Sweet Honey In The Rock®, the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble, has been a vital and innovative presence in the music culture of communities of conscience around the world. Her repertoire is steeped in the sacred music of the Black church, the clarion calls of the civil rights movement, and songs of the struggle for justice everywhere.


The Audio Guide provides interpretive audio programming for both adults and families with children for a single, daily rental fee. An all-in-one player includes audio messages about selected objects in the African Art, Egyptian Art, and Modern Art Galleries.

The Audio Guide is available for daily rental:
$7.00 for the general public; $6.00 for Museum Members; $6.00 for groups of 14 or
fewer; $5.00 for children under 12; $4.00 for groups of 15 or more.


Listen to or download these Met Podcast episodes at www.metmuseum.org/podcast.

American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915—Artist Kara Walker Discusses "The Power of Music"

The Philippe de Montebello Years: Mangaaka Power Figure

The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End

El Anatsui

Episode for Families: Ananse the Spider

Americans in Paris, 1860–1900

Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh

Kara Walker at the Met: After the Deluge


Provocative Visions: Race and Identity—A Panel Discussion
View a panel discussion with contemporary African-American artists Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole, and Whitfield Lovell presented in conjunction with last year's exhibition "Provocative Visions: Race and Identity—Selections from the Permanent Collection."

El Anatsui Installing Between Earth and Heaven
View a video in which curator Alisa LaGamma and artist El Anatsui talk about the installation of Between Earth and Heaven in the African galleries of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, and the sculpture's significance.

For more videos, including recordings featuring African-American fashion designer Arthur McGee and lectures about central African reliquaries, visit the Met's YouTube channel.


Romare Bearden's The Block
Wednesday, February 3, 2:00
Thursday, February 11, 10:00
Thursday, February 18, 3:30
Friday, February 26, 6:00
All talks given by Jessica Murphy.

Africa in a Global Context
Saturday, February 6, 7:00. Yaëlle Biro

African Art at the Museum: A History of the Collection
Tuesday, February 16, 11:00. Yaëlle Biro

Masks: Form, Function, and Meaning in African, Native American, and Precolumbian Art
Saturday, February 27, 11:00. Lauren Ebin

These gallery talks meet at the Tours sign at the south end of the Great Hall.


Masterpieces of African Art
Tuesday and Friday, 1:15

Arts of Ancient Egypt
Tuesday–Friday, 2:00
Friday, 4:00

Guided tours meet at the Tours sign at the south end of the Great Hall.


One Shot: The Life and Work of Teenie Harris
Directed by Kenneth Love (2001). For over 40 years, photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris captured the vibrant African-American community in Pittsburgh (56 min.).
Thursday, February 11, 2:00

Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance
Directed by Amber Edwards (1993). Profiles African-American visual artists who contributed to the Harlem Renaissance in New York City during the 1920s and 1930s (57 min.).
Tuesday, February 16, 2:00

Robert Colescott: The One-Two Punch
Directed by David Irving (1992). Discusses the themes of irony, humor, and appropriation that characterize Colescott's work (30 min.)
The Art of Romare Bearden (2003), Carroll Moore, director. Describes how Bearden's paintings and collages captured the diversity and richness of his life with its unique blend of cultural influences (34 min.).
Thursday, February 18, 2:00

These screenings take place in Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Uris Center for Education.


Look Again!
Topics unlocking the history, meaning, and cross-cultural connections of works of art in the Museum are explored through conversation and sketching by visitors ages five through twelve and their adult companions.

Sunday, February 7, 11:00–12:30 African Masks
Sunday, February 21, 11:00–12:00

African Mothers and Children
Sunday, February 28, 11:00–12:00

A Midwinter Recess's Dream
Art and Government in Africa
Friday, February 19, 11:00–12:00

A gallery program for visitors ages five through twelve and accompanying adults to welcome them to the Museum's collection through discussions and sketching.

All family programs meet in Carson Family Hall, Uris Center for Education.


El poder en el arte africano
El sábado 6 de febrero de 11:30 de la mañana a 1:00 de la tarde

Vengan con sus hijos (entre cuatro y diez años de edad) a nuestros talleres educativos. En las galerías charlaremos sobre diferentes temas, y los niños tendrán la oportunidad de aprender y divertirse haciendo dibujos y actividades didácticas.

Nos reuniremos en Carson Family Hall en el Uris Center for Education. Para más información o reservar plaza, por favor llamen al (212) 650-2833 o envíen un correo electrónico al: primercontacto@ metmuseum.org.


Available in the Museum Shop or to order call (800) 662-3397 or visit store.metmuseum.org and search for "educators."

The Art of Africa: A Resource for Educators

Art by African-American Artists: Selections from the 20th Century—A Resource for Educators

The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators

A Masterwork of African Art: The Dogon Couple—A Closer Look


Adults throughout New York City can enjoy lively talks about The Arts of Africa and African-American Artists. To schedule a talk and tour at the Museum or a slide-illustrated talk in your neighborhood or place of work, please call (212) 396-5170 or visit www.metmuseum.org/events/communityworkplace. A fee is charged.


In Touch with Ancient Egypt
Visitors who are blind or partially sighted are invited to touch six ancient Egyptian sculptures of pharaohs, gods, and goddesses. Reservations are required to experience this tour with a guide. Both groups and individuals are welcome. Please call (212) 650-2010.

Visitors may also take the touch tour independently by using a large-print or braille booklet. Booklets are available at the Information Desk in the Great Hall. Descriptions of sculptures on this tour are also available on the Audio Guide, available from the Audio Guide desk in the Great Hall.

Audio Guide
The Audio Guide is free to visitors who are blind, partially sighted, or hard of hearing. Audio Guide players have volume controls and headsets. Neck loops for hearing aids with T-switches are available upon request. Regular and large-print scripts of Audio Guide programming are also available upon request and are free to Deaf visitors.

Other Services
The Museum is committed to serving all audiences. Please call (212) 650-2010 or email us at access@metmuseum.org about programs and services, including Sign Language–interpreted programs, Verbal Imaging Tours, the Touch Collection, and other programs.


Nolen Library has information about the Museum's collection, special exhibitions, and a Teacher Resource Center with a circulating collection for educators. There is also a Children's Reading Room, a specially designed space for families to read together from books in the library's collection. For hours and further information please call (212) 570-3788 or visit www.metmuseum.org/education/er_lib.asp


Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world, illustrated with over 5,000 works of art from the Metropolitan Museum's collection. To explore the arts of Africa on the Timeline, from prehistory to the present, select "African Art," "Egyptian Art," or "Prehistory" from the "Thematic Essays" menu. See also the essay "Modern Storytellers: Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold" in the "Thematic Essays" category under "American Art—Twentieth Century."

Works of Art
Learn more about art from Africa and Egypt in the Museum and view highlights of works from this region at: www.metmuseum.org/Works_of_Art/collection.asp

Romare Bearden: Let's Walk The Block
This online feature is a visual exploration of Romare Bearden's famous collage of Harlem street life. www.metmuseum.org/explore/the_block/index_flash.html

For further information about our programs, visit the Museum's website at www.metmuseum.org/events.

We are grateful to the following for their support of educational programs:

The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Family Programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art are supported by:
the Uris Brothers Foundation Endowment; the Pat and John Rosenwald Fund;
Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Schein; The Aronson Family Foundation; and Epstein Teicher Philanthropies.

El Primer Contacto con Arte ha sido posible, en parte, gracias al patrocinio de: The Goodman Memorial Foundation, Inc. y The Samuel and Rae Eckman Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Access programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art are made possible by MetLife Foundation. Access programs are also made possible by the generous support of the Filomen M. D'Agostino Foundation. Additional support has been provided by The Ceil & Michael E. Pulitzer Foundation, Inc., the Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust, the Allene Reuss Memorial Trust, The Murray G. and Beatrice H. Sherman Charitable Trust, the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation, Inc., and Jane B. Wachsler.

Online educational resources are made possible by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation.

Press resources