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Mint Museum of Art Receives Six Romare Bearden Paintings


The Mint Museum of Art's goal of becoming a repository of the work of Charlotte, North Carolina native Romare Bearden received a substantial boost with a gift of six collage paintings from the Bank of America. The gift was announced at the opening of the exhibition Charlotte's Own - Romare Bearden, organized by the Mint Museum and on display through October 27, 2002.

"The Mint now has one of the major museum collections of Bearden in the country," said Ruth Fine, curator of a Bearden retrospective scheduled for September of 2003 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. (left: Romare Bearden, Drum Chorus, 1986, collage/watercolor on board)

"We think the Mint should have an important collection of Romare Bearden's work, and we hope giving these six collages will encourage others to do the same," said Marc Oken, Executive Vice-President at Bank of America.

While the modern art world embraced abstraction, Romare Bearden adopted collage as a medium in which fragments of the life he witnessed as a New York City social worker and member of the Harlem Artists Guild could be incorporated in narrative form. His singular style became one of the most recognized among American artists of the 20th century.

"Bearden was a master at going to his roots to find inspiration and imagery that was universal," stated former manager June Kelly. "Whether it was Charlotte, Pittsburgh or Harlem, his art captured the essential humanity of the place. Few artists of his generation achieved such a symphony of artistic concept and execution. Perhaps even more fundamental, he took collage to a new level of aesthetic and technical sophistication and made it his artistic signature."

Romare Bearden's stock has risen steadily since his death at age 76 in 1988 in New York. The prestigious National Gallery major retrospective next September is its first on an African American artist. (right: Romare Bearden, The Train, 1979, collage on paper. Bearden sometimes used trains as a symbol of white civilization's encroachment upon the lives of blacks.)

"I'm confident that the Bank of America gift will motivate others to add to the museum's efforts to become a major repository of Bearden's work as well as provide a boost toward the museum's goal of building a significant African-American art collection," said Zach Smith, Mint Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Charlotte's Own - Romare Bearden is the third exhibition of Bearden's work featured at the Mint Museum of Art. Seventy two paintings, collages and prints from Charlotte area collections are featured.

"The exhibition was a joy to put together," remarked curator Charles Mo. "My initial intent was to select 30 or so for display, but I was surprised to find nearly 200 Bearden works in the community and I'm quite certain there are more to uncover."

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