Marshall Arts presents...
Romare Bearden



Bearden as Abstract Expressionist



In 1950 Bearden travelled to Paris, France to study philosophy on his G.I. Bill.  He didn't paint while there, but he met with many master artists and continued his study of art's masterpieces.

In 1952 Bearden returned to New York.  He still was not painting at this time, however he began composing songs.  One of his song compositions, "Sea Breeze"--recorded by Billy Eckstein, Oscar Pettiford and Dizzy Gillespie--became a hit.

Bearden married Nanette Rohan in 1954.

Bearden also began painting again in 1954.  His style had become Abstract Expressionism, displaying such techniques as "splashed or dripped paint, variations of the same color, and various approaches to oils, acrylics, and paper," (Campbell and Patton 35).  However, Bearden chose not to follow the modernist tradition of Abstract Expressionism.  While still embodying the emphasis on the primacy of the two-dimensional picture plane and color in his paintings, Bearden rejected the contemporary Western aggressive, gestural style.  Bearden's paintings were poetic and serene, utilizing his philosophical base in Zen and the techniques he derived from his study of Chinese landscape painting which emphasizes asymmetrical composition, the essential form, and the use of diagonally placed shape or line which leads the viewer's eye into the pictorial space (36).

His transitional painting of this period was Blue Lady  which was produced in 1955 and contained rectangles of blue and varying color tones.  Bearden experimented with his version of Abstract Expressionism from 1955-1962.  Although Bearden rejected many of the modernist Abstract Expressionist techniques, he was heavily influenced by Hans Hoffman's works during this time.

Another important technique that Bearden began using in his stint in Abstract Expressionism was "dechirage" which involves tearing away sections of painted paper on canvas.  This technique would soon become very instrumental in Bearden's development of his signature style of painting. 


<<Previous  Next>>


HOME    Social Realist    Abstractionist    Abstract Expressionist    Collagist    Legacy