by Lillie Hart
Romare Bearden would have turned 100 last year and the Nasher is honoring his life, his accomplishments and his innovative art with a remarkable exhibition of his artwork Romare Bearden: 20th Century Master. In addition to viewing the exhibition itself, I also attended my first gallery talk by Sarah Schroth, the Nasher Museum’s Nancy Hanks senior curator. Full disclosure: I wasn’t sure what a gallery talk was exactly. I imagined we would be sitting in an auditorium listening to a lecture, but, instead, we started at the beginning of the gallery and were lead through by Schroth.
It was very interesting because Sarah didn’t just talk about the specific piece of artwork we were standing in front of, she talked about how Bearden was born in Charlotte, but moved away at a young age and never returned. His work is nonetheless heavily influenced by the South. Bearden once remarked, “I never left Charlotte, except physically.”
As we stood in front of Pilate (Misty Island) Sarah talked about the work of art and how Bearden used cubism and bright colors, which Sarah mirrored in her vibrant dress and flamingo pink stockings. She also talked about the relationship between Bearden and the subject that he was painting. Sarah described Bearden as having drawn this woman “faithful to her figure”, which I’m sure the woman would appreciate, but he also changed her. Bearden “flattens” her in Sarah’s words, but still uses her silhouette to depict her clearly.
It was interesting for me to hear why Sarah, and those she worked with, placed specific paintings together, and how they juxtaposed one another. My favorite pairing was Untitled by Auguste Herbin and Three Women by Romare Bearden. They both possess tremendous blue colors that were nice on their own, but placed next to one another I honestly couldn’t imagine them apart. Interestingly, Sarah said they were initially on their own until an intern last summer suggested they be placed together. This made me like the pair even more.
Romare Bearden is on view through August 26th, 2012.