creativity, culture, community
“We are thrilled to feature the iconic work of one of the world’s most renowned artists, Romare Bearden, as the signature artwork of this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival,” states Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “Romare loved jazz and much of his work is influenced by it. His improvisational manner of creating collages, his use of flowing imagery, are very much like the essence of jazz. In fact he even wrote a book called The Sound I Saw which really connects those two concepts. We thank the Bearden Foundation for allowing us to use Romare’s stunning “Bopping at Birdland” in association with the 37th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival.”
Romare Howard Bearden was born on September 2, 1911, to (Richard) Howard and Bessye Bearden in Charlotte, North Carolina, and died in New York City on March 12, 1988, at the age of 76. His life and art are marked by exceptional talent, encompassing a broad range of intellectual and scholarly interests, including music, performing arts, history, literature and world art. Bearden was also a celebrated humanist, as demonstrated by his lifelong support of young, emerging artists.
Bearden began college at Lincoln University, transferred to Boston University and completed his studies at New York University (NYU), graduating with a degree in education. While at NYU, Bearden took extensive courses in art and was a lead cartoonist and art editor for the monthly journal The Medley. He also attended the Art Students League in New York and later, the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1935, Bearden became an editorial cartoonist for the Baltimore Afro-American, which he continued doing until 1937.
After joining the Harlem Artists Guild, Bearden embarked on his lifelong study of art, gathering inspiration from Western masters ranging from Duccio, Giotto and de Hooch to Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse, as well as from African art (particularly sculpture, masks and textiles), Byzantine mosaics, Japanese prints and Chinese landscape paintings.
From the mid-1930s through 1960s, Bearden was a social worker with the New York City Department of Social Services, working on his art at night and on weekends. His success as an artist was recognized with his first solo exhibition in Harlem in 1940 and his first solo show in Washington, DC, in 1944. Bearden was a prolific artist whose works were exhibited during his lifetime throughout the United States and Europe.
In 1954, Bearden married Nanette Rohan, with whom he spent the rest of his life. In the 1970s, he and Nanette established a second residence on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, his wife’s ancestral home, and some of his later work reflected the island’s lush landscapes. Among his many friends, Bearden had close associations with such distinguished artists, intellectuals and musicians as James Baldwin, Stuart Davis, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Joan Miró, Alvin Ailey and Jacob Lawrence.
Recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the twentieth century, Bearden had a prolific and distinguished career. He experimented with many different mediums and artistic styles, but is best known for his richly textured collages, two of which appeared on the covers of Fortune and Time magazines, in 1968.
Bearden’s work is included in many important public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Studio Museum in Harlem. He has had retrospectives at the Detroit Institute of the Arts (1986), The Studio Museum in Harlem (1991), the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2003) and the Carlos Museum at Emory University (2013). For more information: http://www.beardenfoundation.org/artlife/biography/biography.html
Commemorative T-Shirts and Posters – Atlanta Jazz Festival commemorative posters and t-shirts featuring Romare Bearden’s “Bopping at Birdland” (Walking Bass) will be available for sale at the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park from Friday, May 23 through Sunday, May 25. T-shirts are $20 and posters are $20.
Sponsorship: Sponsors for this year’s festival include Bank of America, Publix and Publix Charities, Coca-Cola, W Atlanta-Midtown, MARTA, XFINITY, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Georgia Lottery, FORD and Duty Free Americas.
The 37th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is presented by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The mission of the Atlanta Jazz Festival is to educate and entertain a diverse audience of jazz fans and to nurture the next generation of jazz musicians. The festival is partially supported by Atlanta Jazz Festival Inc, a 501©(3) cultural, non-profit. Like us on Facebook at AtlantaJazzFestival and visit the official web site at www.atlantafestivals.com for performance schedules, news and information.
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