With a kaleidoscopic array of brilliant colors and bold geometric patterns, Romare Bearden evoked the mystery and vitality of African spiritual traditions in Wizard’s Domaine. Although there is no clear narrative, the white-robed figure at right seems to be entreating the winged character of the wizard, gazing down on his domain from the sky. The remainder of the composition is densely packed with the forms of a building, other figures and animals, and plants, as well as abstract symbols and decorative passages.
Throughout his career, Bearden was particularly interested in the African American experience, but he also believed that a universal “prevalence of ritual” united people across generations and cultures. He drew stylistic inspiration from a variety of sources, including African art, Cubist and Dadaist collage, jazz music, and Caribbean landscapes.
This work has been placed on view as part of Romare Bearden: 20th Century American Master, a centennial tribute organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Romare Bearden Foundation. Events and installations nationwide mark the hundredth anniversary of Bearden’s birth. For more information, visit beardencentennial.org. To find out where to view other Bearden artworks in the tristate area between now and September 2012, visit studiomuseum.org.
Born in North Carolina, Bearden moved to Harlem with his family in 1920. He produced his earliest work as a cartoonist for school publications at Boston University and New York University. While at NYU, he took art classes at the Art Students League. Following his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Bearden studied philosophy in Paris, where he came into contact with modernist artists. Back in New York, he supported himself as a songwriter and a social worker in the early 1950s and then resumed his work as an artist in the 1960s. He was a founding member of Spiral, a collective of African American artists formed in 1963 to explore their role in American art and society. During this period, Bearden began making the widely acclaimed collages that became the hallmark of his oeuvre.
Watercolor over pencil on paper
This item is not on view
Gift of The Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation
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Romare Bearden (American, 1911-1988). Wizard's Domaine, ca. 1970s. Watercolor over pencil on paper, 19 x 24 in. (48.3 x 61cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation, 2004.30.2. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2004.30.2.jpg)
overall, 2004.30.2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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