Enduring Legacy

Conversations on Romare Bearden

Webinar Series

Bearden with Betty Blayton and Children’s Art Carnival students; “Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual” at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 1972; Romare Bearden Papers [ysqdockk], The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

Thirty-six years after the death of Romare Bearden, his art and life continue to impact contemporary artists and other enthusiasts. His art is one of multiple inheritances that reference European and American modernism, dadaism, and civil rights-era artists – and Bearden’s own activism would align him strongly with the latter. Bearden made powerful statements about the Black experience while also situating that experience within the universal. His work defies simple description and categorization, and inspires new avenues of engagement that resonates with our present moment and contemporary questions of race in America. 

This event series featured three speakers whose scholarship and practice engage with Bearden’s formulation of the visual world: current Romare Bearden Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum Charlie Farrell, independent art historian Anne Monahan, and multi-medium artist Kahlil Robert Irving. Each event includes a short presentation from the speakers followed by an extended conversation with questions from the audience.   

Conceptualizing Black Joy

Recorded Webinar Available Here

Photo courtesy of the artist and the Kemper Art Museum, photographer JWPictures

Kahlil Robert Irving discussed his artistic practice, including the pieces that were included in the recent exhibition, In Common: New Approaches with Romare Bearden, held at The New School in New York City. The show featured the work of six contemporary artists alongside that of Bearden.

Kahlil Robert Irving’s sculptures, paintings, and collages subtly describe how to navigate being Black in the United States. His collages, influenced by modern digital culture, show how materials can be interpolated and pieced together to highlight Black joy while shedding light on violent white people and their ideologies. Irving received his BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute and MFA at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University. His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the New Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and Archeology of the Present at the Kemper Art Museum.

This event was recorded May 22, 2024

Situating the Projections with Anne Monahan

Recorded webinar available here

Romare Bearden, The Evening Meal of the Prophet Peterson, 1964, Collage on various papers with graphite on cardboard, 12 ½ x 15 ¾ inches. Collection of Elisabeth and William Landes, Chicago.

Anne Monahan discussed her chapter on Bearden from her manuscript in progress, “A Usable Past”: Race, Figuration, and Politics in the 1960s. Her research on Bearden reconsiders his breakthrough Projections exhibition in 1964, exploring his turn to photomontage, how race factored into the works’ reception, and the impact of this work on a rising generation of artists of color.

Anne Monahan is an independent art historian specializing in modern and contemporary art. She is the author of Horace Pippin, American Modern (Yale, 2020), and Faith Ringgold: Die (MoMA, 2018). Her research has also appeared in Art Journal, The Metropolitan Museum Journal, Nka, edited volumes, and museum catalogues. She lives and works in New York.

This event was recorded May 15, 2024

Curating Romare Bearden with Charlie Farrell

Recorded webinar available here

Charlie Farrell gave an overview of Romare Bearden: Resonances, and exhibition on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum (May 3 – September 15, 2024). The show features Bearden’s important collage, Summertime (1967), alongside other collage works from the Museum’s collection, tracing Bearden’s influence and relationships with other artists, and grounding him in a continuum of Black creativity. 

Image: Romare Bearden, Summertime, 1967, Collage on board, 56 x 44 in. (142.2 x 111.8 cm) © Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York, NY. Saint Louis Art Museum (22:1999)

Charlie Farrell is the 2022-2024 Romare Bearden Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where she works cross-departmentally on development, educational, and curatorial projects. She most recently curated Wangechi Mutu: My Cave Call and Romare Bearden: Resonances with Simon Kelly, the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Farrell previously contributed research, oral histories, and installation assistance for the exhibition From the Cedar Chest: Southern Quilting, 1830s to Today at the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum and has held internships at the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art and the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. She holds a BA and MA from Florida State University.

This event was recorded May 8, 2024

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