Bearden was born on this day 100 years ago, September 2, 1911, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Early in his career, his work was influenced by Mexican muralists, including Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. In the 1930s, he studied under German artist George Grosz at the Art Students League in New York. Throughout his career, Bearden was involved with a variety of art forms, including music, literature and performing arts, and he also wrote on artistic and social issues. A social worker for the New York City Department of Social Services for several decades, Bearden spent his nights and weekends creating his art. Bearden spent most of his adult life in New York City, where he died in 1988.
Best known for the collages he created in the 1960s, Bearden created these works from pieces of popular magazines and colored paper. He addition to arranging the bits of paper, he would often augment them using graphite, paint, bleach or sandpaper. These small compositions were then enlarged onto full-sized sheets of paper, creating a more unified, smooth surface. Village Square, shown below, is an example of his use of collage to portray scenes of black urban life, a common theme throughout his oeuvre.
To commemorate the centennial of his birth, the Mint Museum organized a major retrospective of his works. To view more information about the exhibition click here.
Click through the slideshow below to view more of Bearden's works and watch videos to learn more information about this remarkable artist.