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"Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey" on view at the Michael C. Carlos Museum
Battle with Cicones, 1977. Collage of various papers with graphite on fiberboard. Courtesy Currier Museum of Art.
ATLANTA, GA.- The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University is presenting Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey from December 14, 2013 through March 9, 2014. In 1977, Romare Bearden (1911-1988), one of the most powerful and original artists of the 20th century, created a series of collages and watercolors based on Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. Bearden’s own Odyssey series created an artistic bridge between classical mythology and African American culture. They were displayed for only two months in New York City before being scattered to private collections and public art museums. A new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) represents the full-scale presentation of these works.

Born in Charlotte, N.C., Bearden moved with his family to Harlem as a young child, part of the Great Migration of African Americans from the inhospitable South to greater opportunity in the North. Throughout his career, Bearden created images of the lives of travelers on their way to and from home, a theme no more powerfully explored than in his Odyssey series. Bearden had examined classical themes before, but his Odyssey series expanded his exploration of literary narratives and artistic genres by presenting his own personal reinterpretation of the subject. Mark Sanders, Chair of Emory University’s Department of African American Studies, said, “As a meditation on the western epic tradition and African American mobility, Bearden's Odyssey series invites a broader examination of African American culture and within the context of migration, escape, and notions of home and belonging.

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey features 55 works, including collages, watercolors and line drawings as well as additional compositions relating to Bearden's interest in classical themes. The exhibition is curated by English and jazz scholar Robert G. O’Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University.

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery.





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