An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden (Hardback)Mary Schmidt Campbell (author)
Hardback 464 Pages / Published: 27/09/2018
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One of the most important and underappreciated visual artists of the twentieth century, Romare Bearden started as a cartoonist during his college years and emerged as a painter during the 1930s, at the tail end of the Harlem Renaissance and in time to be part of a significant community of black artists supported by the WPA. Though light-skinned and able to "pass, " Bearden embraced his African heritage, choosing to paint social realist canvases of African-American life. After World War II, he became one of a handful of black artists to exhibit in a private gallery-the commercial outlet that would form the core of the American art world's post-war marketplace. Rejecting Abstract Expressionism, he lived briefly in Paris. After he suffered a nervous breakdown, Bearden returned to New York, turning to painting just as the civil rights movement was gaining ground with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery bus boycott. By the time of the March on Washington in 1963, Bearden had begun to experiment with collage-or Projection, as he called it-the medium for which he would ultimately become famous. In An American Odyssey, Mary Schmidt Campbell offers readers an enlightening analysis of Bearden's influences and the thematic focus of his mature work. Bearden's work provides an exquisite portrait of memory and the African American past; according to Campbell, it also offers a record of the narrative impact of visual imagery in the twentieth century, revealing how the emerging popularity of photography, film and television depicted African Americans during their struggle to be recognized as full citizens of the United States.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 464
Weight: 836 g
Dimensions: 237 x 164 x 32 mm
"Campbell offers a discerning portrait of Bearden's long and successful career... A perceptive, richly detailed biography."--Kirkus
"A dynamic portrait... Bearden once wrote, 'The Negro artist must come to think of himself not primarily as a Negro artist, but as an artist, ' and Campbell perfectly encapsulates that notion in this analysis of Bearden's remarkable career."--Publishers Weekly
"[Campbell] authoritatively conveys the complexity of Bearden's struggles as a Black artist who both aggressively supported his Black colleagues in Harlem-based exhibitions and believed that the universality of artistic vision must move beyond any single community to be most effective. It is an exhilarating and instructive read." --Ruth Fine, Curator
"Meticulously researched and highly readable, this ground-breaking analytical biography of one of the twentieth century's leading figures in painting, collage and other art forms is an immensely important addition to recent art historical literature and biography. It is a pleasure to read and is a necessary addition to our American cultural consciousness." --Edward J. Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor of the History of Art, Institute of Fine Arts (Deputy Director), New York University
"In this extraordinary book, Mary Schmidt Campbell unveils-in brilliantly researched and captivating language-the journey of unrelenting effort and self-discovery that has earned Romare Bearden a place of rare distinction, as both an artist universally revered by the greater art world and as a 'hero' to his own people.... Every page is abundant with vivid imagery and detail that brings Romare Bearden's artistic odyssey to life. Bravo!" --Dianne McIntyre, Choreographer
"Dr. Campbell's elegant prose and impeccable scholarship brilliantly illuminate the life and career of one of the twentieth century's great artistic visionaries. True to its name, An American Odyssey positions Romare Bearden's journey as both deeply his own and inexorably tied to our nation's history." --Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem
"Through her long association with Romare Bearden and his work, Mary Schmidt Campbell possesses a rare understanding of his life and artistry. In this beautifully written volume, she sensitively illuminates his biography and comprehensively traces the trajectory of his career. By brilliantly interweaving the political history of African Americans throughout the 20th century with the emergence of one our foremost artists, she has written a book that speaks to anyone who is interested in American history, art, and culture. Campbell writes that Bearden's legacy is his ability to create worlds; in this biography, she re-creates Bearden's world." --Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
"By navigating the historical, social, and political contexts informing black aesthetics and Bearden's unique oeuvre, Campbell, president of Spelman College, has produced an invaluable work."--Booklist
"Ms. Campbell's book will be of interest to those just discovering Bearden as well as to experts, along with anyone interested in the history of American art in the mid-to-late 20th century. It is an admirable gesture of friendship from author to subject, one which, in its most closely observed pages, does justice to a remarkable life."--Wall Street Journal
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