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* 2.9.1911 Charlotte, † 12.3.1988 New York

The Black American artist Fred Romare Harry Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1911. After a racially motivated attack on his family, they moved to Harlem, New York in 1915. From 1927 to 1929 Bearden lived with his maternal grandmother in Pittsburgh, where he completed his school education. In 1930 he began his studies at Boston University and took numerous art courses. Bearden moved back to New York, where he continued his studies and worked as a cartoonist for various magazines. In 1935 he graduated from New York University. His teacher, the German artist George Grosz, had immigrated to the United States in the 1930s, and had a great influence on the young student. He introduced him to European modernism and through him Bearden became acquainted with the collages of Hannah Höch and John Heartfield. While studying, he also spent time as a social worker in Harlem, where, in addition to the artistic skills he learned from Grosz, he also became more familiar with the lives of marginalised groups and minorities. The social problems triggered by the Great Depression, the impending World War and everyday racism had a great influence on his art.

Bearden's first solo exhibition of paintings, gouaches and watercolours took place in New York in 1940. In 1942 he joined the US Army and was posted to Europe. After the War, he moved to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne and returned to New York in 1952 again engaging himself as a social worker. His time in Paris strengthened and cemented his love of European modernism. 1959, gallery owners Arne Ekstrom and Michel Warren visited him in his studio and went on to represent him until his death. From the 1950s on, he was increasingly interested in collage, which became the dominant medium in his oeuvre. He mainly used photographs and found images from newspapers and magazines, which he assembled in complex, spatially dynamic compositions.

Bearden and his wife became active in the Civil Rights Movement, since they had experienced racism and social and political inequality directly. Until 1969 he continued to work full-time for the Department of Social Services but left this job to focus exclusively on his art. In 1971, the Museum of Modern Art honoured Romare Bearden with a retrospective. In 1976, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Achievements in the Arts by the Governor of North Carolina. In March 1988, Romare Bearden died in New York at the age of 77.

Works from our auctions

Works by this artist from our auctions

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Lot 3449 - A201 PostWar & Contemporary - Thursday 30 June 2022, 05.00 PM


(Charlotte 1911–1988 New York)
Mecklenberg, evening. 1980.
Oil, pencil, watercolor and collage (fabric, offset, paper) on paper firmly laid down on masonite.
Signed lower left: Romare Bearden, also with artist, title, measurements and dated on a label on the reserve: "Mecklenberg, Evening" 13 3/4"/177/8" 1980 ROMARE bearden.
35.2 × 45.5 cm.

CHF 120 000 / 180 000 | (€ 123 710 / 185 570)

Sold for CHF 165 000 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.

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Lot 3662 - A207 Prints & Multiples - Thursday 30 November 2023, 11.00 AM


(Charlotte 1911–1988 New York)
The Train. 1974.
Etching and colour aquatint, reworked with watercolour. XX/XXV. Signed in pencil lower right: Romare Bearden. Image 45.2 × 55.8 cm on wove paper by Fabriano (with the watermark) 56 × 77.3 cm. Published by Transworld Art (with the blindstamp).

CHF 4 000 / 6 000 | (€ 4 120 / 6 190)

Sold for CHF 3 750 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.

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