Romare Bearden: The Caribbean Dimension

Overview

Romare Bearden (1911-1988), the great African American artist, spent much of the last two decades of his life on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. This tropical experience influenced not only the work (mainly watercolors) that he produced while in the region but also the imagery of rural North Carolina and Harlem that he created during his final and most productive years. Best known for his paintings and collages of jazz and the rural South, he was honored by a major retrospective of his life's work at the ...

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Overview

Romare Bearden (1911-1988), the great African American artist, spent much of the last two decades of his life on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. This tropical experience influenced not only the work (mainly watercolors) that he produced while in the region but also the imagery of rural North Carolina and Harlem that he created during his final and most productive years. Best known for his paintings and collages of jazz and the rural South, he was honored by a major retrospective of his life's work at the National Gallery of Art in 2003.

Bearden was explicit that, for him, the Caribbean was vital. "Art will go where the energy is. I find a great deal of energy in the Caribbean. . . . It's like a volcano there; there's something unfinished underneath that still smolders."

In this full-color work, lavishly illustrated with 130 Bearden paintings as well as many photos of him and his friends in St. Martin, distinguished scholars Sally Price and Richard Price explore Bearden's Caribbean experience with an insider's eye. Friends of Bearden, such as poet Derek Walcott and writer Albert Murray, contribute their critical assessments of Bearden's legacy, through interviews with the authors. Commentary by others, such as James Baldwin, Alvin Ailey, and Ralph Ellison, help round out the picture.

The book focuses on several themes that Bearden treated in his Caribbean work. In his "enchanted places," a lush forest provides the setting for sensuous female nudes. His "Obeah series" explores the mysteries of local religious life, depicting a variety of ritual specialists in trance. And his "Carnival series" bursts with the energy of that quintessential Caribbean celebration.

In this book, the Prices reassess Bearden's Caribbean experience, locating it at the very center of his artistic legacy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A delightful visual voyage!"—Art Times

"With enough color to impress the most fervent fauvists, Romare Bearden features the pictorial flamboyance of Romare Bearden's impressive Caribbean oeuvre. A delightful visual voyage!"—Art Times (five out of five stars)

"No serious academic library American art history collection can be considered complete or comprehensive without the inclusion of Romare Bearden: The Caribbean Dimension."—Midwest Book Review

"Bright and lively. . . . The Prices have emulated Bearden's gift for assemblage by juxtaposing their illuminating commentary with that of earlier critics, Bearden's own writings, and the observations of the literature-loving artist's writer friends."—Booklist

"The Prices have opened the door for the public and the art world to assess a productive and artistically creative chapter in the life of an American original."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812239485
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,451,806
  • Product dimensions: 11.42 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally Price and Richard Price have collaborated on numerous books, including Equatoria, Enigma Variations, Maroon Arts, and The Root of Roots. They divide their time between Virginia, where they teach at the College of William and Mary, and Martinique, their base for research and writing.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Romare Bearden: A Life in Art
A Painter's Mind
Watercolor Country
—Changing Your Anchor
—The Walcott Collaboration
Enchanted Places
—Bearden's Caribbean Aesthetic
—The Prevalence of Martinique
—The St. Martin Paintings
Going to the Edge: Rituals of the Obeah
Don't Stop the Carnival
At Low Tide
Redeeming a Tradition

Acknowledgments
Source Notes
References Cited

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