The Street

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Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988)
The Street, 1964
Paper collage on cardboard
12 7/8 x 15 3/8 in. (32.7 x 39.05 cm) framed: 21 1/8 × 28 3/16 × 1 3/4 in. (53.66 × 71.6 × 4.45 cm)
Gift of Friends of Art and African American Art Acquisition Fund M1996.52
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
© Romare Bearden/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not Currently on View

Because Romare Bearden intentionally set out to portray the daily life of black Americans, his own African-American heritage must be taken into account in order to fully appreciate his work. Following Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Bearden and 13 other African-American artists met to discuss “the Negro image” in art. Failing to persuade the group to produce a collaborative work, Bearden struck out on his own, creating a series of 21 collages that were exhibited together in 1964. This Harlem street scene captures Bearden’s own neighborhood in a rhythmic composition that demonstrates the loose, improvisational structure that marked the jazz and blues permeating the New York that he knew. Here life is happening on the front stoops and sidewalks as people sit and watch or hustle on their way.

Publication History
Cornell University. Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Brooklyn, NY: NKA Publications, Number 41, November, 2017, color illus., p. 38.

Godfrey, Mark, and Zoe Whitley. Soul of a Nation. Art in the Age of Black Power. London: Tate Gallery Publishing Ltd, 2017, p. 2, color illus.

Carbone, Teresa A., Connie H. Choi, Kellie Jones, Dalila Scruggs, and Cynthia Ann Young. Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn Museum, 2014, color illus. fig. 74, p. 83.

Matlin, Daniel. On the Corner: African American Intellectuals and the Urban Crisis. 2013, color illus., cover, fig. 9.

Bearden, Romare, Ruth Fine, and Jacqueline Francis. Romare Bearden, American Modernist. Washington [D.C]: National Gallery of Art, 2011. color illus. p. 208.

Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 57, 73, cat. 95, color illus. p. 57.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 195, color illus.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Making Marks: Drawing in the 20th Century from Picasso to Kiefer. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1998, p. 65, cat. 7, b/w illus. p. 41.
Exhibition History
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, London, U.K., July 12, 2017-October 22, 2017.

Art, Activism, and Civil Rights in the 1960s, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, March 7 – July 6, 2014.

The Art of Romare Bearden, National Gallery of Art, September 14, 2003 – January 4, 2004.

Making Marks: Drawing in the 20th Century from Picasso to Kiefer, Milwaukee Art Museum, June 12 – August 23, 1998.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.