In this exhibition, the High honors one of the 20th century’s most influential artists and the important recent acquisition of Romare Bearden’s only known self portrait, Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Artist with Painting and Model (1981). Bearden (1911-1988) infused his work with themes central to the Black experience. This late-career collage is a retrospective work in which Bearden brings together important memories and spiritual influences from his youth in the South with broader art historical themes that guided his career for more than four decades. Artist with Painting and Model is the culminating work of Bearden’s “Profile” series, a two-part collection of collages based on Bearden’s memories of the 1930s and 40s, and it is Bearden’s only work that directly references his role as an artist.
This focus exhibition delves into the layered references of this stunning self portrait – from the Italian Renaissance to Matisse, African Art to the rhythms of jazz, from Bearden’s reminiscences of his Southern roots to the powerful expression of his spirituality and experiences as a black man in America. In addition to Artist with Painting and Model, the exhibition will feature the eight other Bearden works in the High’s collection, which showcase the diversity of his practice and include collage, watercolors and various types of prints.