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2col Siren's Song press



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2col Siren’s Song press

Romare Bearden, “The Siren’s Song,” 1977, collage with paint and graphite on fiberboard, 32 by 44 inches.

Photo e-m’d 10-30


FOR 11/ 16


avv/gs set 11/1 #717837

NEW YORK CITY — In 1977, Romare Bearden (1911–1988) created 20 collages based on episodes from “The Odyssey,” Homer’s ancient Greek poem. The exhibition, “Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey,” on view through January 5 at DC Moore Gallery, is the first full-scale presentation of these works since they were originally shown 30 years ago.

The exhibition also includes additional compositions relating to Bearden’s interest in classical themes and examine his motivations in creating these works within the context of the “Odysseus Series” and his overall oeuvre. The exhibition is accompanied by a 112-page full color, case bound catalog.

“Roman Bearden’s brilliant collages of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ may strike even the most avid Bearden lovers as an odd departure from his best-known work: the edgy urban and jazz scenes that Albert Murray has called ‘the visual equivalent of the blues,’” observes Robert G. O’Meally in his catalog essay, “Romare Bearden’s Black Odyssey: A Search for Home.”

“Why would this great chronicler of black life in America, this Ellington of Twentieth Century painters (who was the maestro’s second cousin), suddenly turn from contemporary Harlem to classical Homer?

“My best answer is that perhaps Bearden did not wander so far afield, after all,” O’Meally continues, “that Bearden saw Harlem in Homer’s Odyssey, and Odysseus in Harlem. Behind the faces of Homer’s Greek characters … Bearden detected a blues-like heroism that would enable black American’s ongoing search for home. This is the pressing quest which — considering his scores of interiors and exteriors, country and city life, and depictions of family love — is the central theme of all Bearden’s art.”

Bearden the artist found Homer’s subject matter and imagery universal, and he reinterpreted the epic as if Homer had been a Mediterranean African bard in settings almost more North African than Greek, with lush environments inhabited by dark-skinned figures rooted in both classical myth and African American culture.

DC Moore Gallery represents the estate of Romare Bearden and The Romare Bearden Foundation.

On Thursday, November 29, the gallery will present a discussion with O’Meally and Diedra Harris-Kelley, program associate of the Romare Bearden Foundation, from 6 to 7 pm. A reception will follow, 7 to 8. Seating is limited; RSVP by November 20.

DC Moore Gallery is on the eighth floor of 724 Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets. For general information, 212-247-2111 or www.dcmooregallery.com.

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