PITTSBURGH, PA.- The August Wilson Center for African American Culture
is hosting the exhibition From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden through September 12, 2011 in The Centerʼs Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Changing Exhibit Gallery.
The Romare Bearden Foundation, a New York based, public foundation dedicated to the legacy of preeminent American artist, Romare Bearden (1911-1988) has organized the exhibition From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden for a three-year national tour. The exhibition presents a selected body of prints that examines the ways that Bearden experimented, innovated and collaborated on his journey toward mastery of the print medium. It includes over seventy-five lithographs, etchings, collagraphs, collagraph plates, screen prints, drypoints, monoprints and engravings, all created over a span of 30 years. They demonstrate, in part, how Bearden extended his artistic imagination beyond the collages and photomontages that inspired many of the works. The exhibit was curated by Pamela Ford, The Foundationʼs former program director, and designed by Bally Exhibit, Pittsburgh, PA.
Cecile Shellman, Artistic Director, Visual Arts & Exhibitions at the August Wilson Center, said it is an honor to present Beardenʼs multiple original graphic prints, especially given his connection to Pittsburgh.
The richness of pattern and color, the strength of theme and the importance of mark and myth are evident in this body of work. Beardenʼs formative years in Pittsburghas a boy in East Liberty living with his maternal grandmotherinfluenced his work throughout his entire career, Ms. Shellman said.
A graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools, Romare Bearden is an example of the promise Pittsburgh holds for youth who dare to dream, are nurtured in their desires, and persevere against the odds, she added.
The national museum tour, organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA, will travel to museums throughout the country through 2013.
From Process to Print
The exhibition follows several major shows of Beardenʼs work, including the groundbreaking retrospective The Art of Romare Bearden, organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. From Process to Print is important for examining in depth the significance of prints in Beardenʼs oeuvre, for offering new perspectives from contemporary scholars and artists/practitioners, for bringing the research up to date and in many instances, correcting the past record on titles, attributions and techniques.
As Grace C. Stanislaus, the President of the Foundation noted, For Bearden, the process of making art was as important as the product that resulted. While this is especially true of his collages, for which he is an acknowledged master, it is equally true about his graphic works.
The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to examine Beardenʼs print making process as he worked and re-worked a particular image, theme or technique, to consider how his thinking and approaches were shaped through collaborations with master printmakers and to understand how key themes and motifs like trains, family life, rituals, urban scenes, jazz and mythology extended his artistic imagination from collage into other media.
The works in the exhibition show Beardenʼs extraordinary facility for weaving into every art form a rich tapestry of literary, biblical, mythological, popular culture and western and non-western themes that were informed by his African American cultural experiences. Included are prints based on collages like the Odysseus Series and Piano Lesson that he reworked in several media through changes in technique, scale and color and through the use of photographic processes. Also included are two important photoengraving series, The Train and The Family and the extraordinary limited edition 12 Trains. John Loring writing in Arts Magazine in 1973 proclaimed The Train one of the 10 most important prints of our time.
Romare Bearden: The Last Years, Photography by Frank Stewart
Also on view is a companion exhibition, Romare Bearden: The Last Years featuring the work of Frank Stewart, an award-winning, New York-based photographer whose work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at venues such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, International Center of Photography and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Stewart met Bearden in 1975 while filming the documentary Two Centuries of Black American Art. Over the next 13 years, Stewart spent thousands of hours with the artist capturing him socializing at exhibits, working in his studio and relaxing. Approximately 46 of Stewartʼs photographs are on exhibit at The Center.
Ms. Shellman said the paired exhibitions are particularly significant because this is the first time these works have been shown concurrently.
Frank Stewartʼs familial closeness to Bearden made him, the young artist, an observer and mentee of the older, wiser, established luminary whom he befriended and documented in this tender series of photographs spanning a 13-year period, she said. We see Bearden at rest, Bearden at play, Bearden in the company of other noted artists and critics.
Romare Bearden (1911-1988), an American artist of African American heritage, was honored during his lifetime and posthumously with numerous prestigious awards, publications and exhibitions. Along with representation in important public and private collections, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts and honored with a groundbreaking retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. A master collagist, Bearden is celebrated today as a preeminent, highly prolific artist of exceptional and multifaceted talents and interests. He was a jazz aficionado, an author of scholarly books, a song writer/lyricist as well an arts activist and an engaged humanist. Bearden incorporated into his artwork a rich montage of influences from American, African, Asian and European art and culture and took inspiration from memories and experiences of the rural South, the urban North and the Caribbean.