Archive for November 21st, 2022

Bearden/ Talking About Life

Romare Bearden Jazz Suite 1979 b

Romare Bearden–Jazz Suite ,1979

I believe that art is an expression of what people feel and want. In order for a painting to be “good” two things are necessary: that there be a communion of belief and desire between artist and spectator; that the artist be able to see and say something that enriches the fund of communicable feeling and the medium for expressing it.

–Romare Bearden, Artist’s statement (1940)

Romare Bearden (1911-1988) is one of those artists who inspire with both their work and their words. I have always admired his work and usually come away with something I can use in my own work whenever I spend time looking at his work. But I also enjoy hearing his views on his work and art in general, usually sharing his point of view.

His writing evolved over the year, becoming more direct and to the point as he aged and understood what he was as ana artist. For example, the quote at the top is from a 1940 artist’s statement. It is more formal and tending towards artspeak, that mishmash of  artsy terminology that often sounds high and mighty while saying little. It actually says something and I agree with his premise, so, for me, it doesn’t quite reach artspeak.

But contrast it with this bit from an interview in the 1980’s:

All painting is a kind of talking about life.

Short, sweet, and to the point. He always feels like someone you could sit down with and have a comfortable conversation about meaningful things. Maybe, like his painting, talking about life. It’s a sentiment that is very much the same in the two statements above and I think it applies to his work as well. There’s a comfort level, a warm and inviting quality, in his work that I find appealing. It’s something that most artists would love to have that in their own work. It’s something I certainly hope shows up in mine, at least sometimes.

Since Bearden often used jazz musicians as a favorite subject, thought I’d end this short post with a favorite piece of jazz from Miles Davis, his classic So What.

Seems like a good way to kick off the week.

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