Romare Bearden: Abstraction





Curated by Tracy Fitzpatrick, Director, Neuberger Museum of Art.

UMMA’s presentation coordinated by Ozi Uduma, Assistant Curator of Global Contemporary Art.

February 5 — May 15, 2022

Romare Bearden
River Mist, ca. 1962, oil on unprimed linen, and oil, casein, and colored pencil on canvas, cut, torn, and mounted on painted board
© Romare Bearden Foundation / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, NY. 

Discover the lost decade of a culturally important artist

Between 1952 and 1964, Romare Bearden created a large body of abstract watercolors, oil paintings, and collages. Exhibited with success at the time of their execution, these artworks are little known today. Nonetheless, they directly inform the collages for which Bearden is now best known.

This exhibition provides a chronology and context for the period during which he produced his abstractions, filling in missing information and bookending this decade of work. The beginning of this show includes examples of the artist’s figural abstract watercolors from the 1940s, as well as some of his earliest abstract works in watercolor and collage from the 1950s. From there, the show moves on to explore Bearden’s large-scale and miniature abstractions, as well as examples of his later work from the mid 1960s. Altogether, Romare Bearden: Abstraction tells the story of a historically neglected but extraordinary and critically important aspect of his body of work.

Select Objects on View

Download Digital Bearden Brochure

Read more about Romare Bearden's work with abstraction in this digital download. Curator Tracy Fitzpatrick traces Bearden's career and shares insights into some of the works on display for this exhibition.

Essay adapted from Tracy Fitzpatrick, "Romare Bearden: Abstraction," in Tracy Fitzpatrick with Lowery Sims, Romare Bearden: Abstraction (Purchase, NY: Neuberger Museum of Art, 2017), 12-38. Printed with permission.

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Related Artists in UMMA’s Collection

Black artists have worked in Abstract Expressionism for decades, creating some of the most thought-provoking, innovative works. Yet, art historical narratives on abstract expressionism tend to exclude the contributions and innovations of Black artists. In conjunction with Romare Bearden: Abstraction, UMMA has gathered together a selection of works in our collection from Black abstract expressionist artists for you to explore.

Exhibition Support

Romare Bearden: Abstraction is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, State University of New York. The exhibition is curated by Tracy Fitzpatrick, Director, Neuberger Museum of Art. The presentation at the University of Michigan Museum of Art is coordinated by Ozi Uduma, Assistant Curator of Global Contemporary Art.

The national tour of Romare Bearden: Abstraction is sponsored by Morgan Stanley.

Lead support for UMMA’s presentation is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, the Eleanor Noyes Crumpacker Endowment Fund, and the Ross School of Business. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Department of History of Art and Department of Afroamerican and African Studies.

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