“Right now, it is almost impossible to go into a bookstore and not come across a book with Romare Bearden’s art on its cover.” So writes Thelma Golden in the catalogue accompanying “Romare Bearden in Black and White: Photomontage Projections 1964.”[1] As someone who frequents bookstores, I can vouch for her observation. Bearden’s imagery is in demand for books which, as Golden states, “have something to do … with the ‘black experience.’” This is fitting, of course, for Bearden’s great subject was (in his own words) “the validity of my Negro experience.” In his finest work, the collages of his maturity, Bearden created a deeply felt and rigorously complex chronicle of black America. It is a rooted and elegiac art but also a joyous one, embodying African-American life, in all its multiplicity, with pictorial know-how and an unabashed...


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