The Lantern

Romare Bearden

Charlotte, NC 1911-1988

The Lantern, 1979 Lithograph

2006 Permanent Collection Purchase from Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1911, Romare Bearden, by the time of his death in 1988, had achieved a stature known by few artists during their lifetimes. He was, and still is, considered America’s greatest collagist and was thus honored by receiving the National Medal of Arts in 1987 from then President Reagan. The artist’s works are in the permanent collections of most every major American Museum including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrospectives of Bearden’s art have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art, the Mint Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Council for Creative Projects.

Bearden was an artist, author, and songwriter, who grew up in New York City and Pittsburgh, PA, and graduated from New York University in 1935. He studied art, education, science, and mathematics, graduating with a degree in science and education. He was the author or coauthor of several books. Bearden also was a songwriter, known as co-writer of the jazz classic “Sea Breeze”, which was recorded by Billy Eckstine, a former high school classmate at Peabody High School, and Dizzy Gillespie. He had long supported young, emerging artists, and he and his wife established the Bearden Foundation to continue this work, as well as to support young scholars.

Throughout his life, Bearden depicted many rituals and social customs of twentieth century rural Black America. The images of spiritual ceremonies, baptisms and burial, industrial hardships, musical arrangements and daily life have become the themes that critics and collectors most frequently associate with his work.

Artist photograph from Biography excerpts from

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