Romare Bearden (September 2, 1911, in Charlotte, North Carolina - March 11, 1988 in New York, New York) was an African American artist. Although he was born in Charlotte, Bearden's family soon moved to Pittsburgh and subsequently settled in Harlem, New York. His mother was a social activist and the editor of the African-American newspaper the Chicago Defender. As a result Bearden was exposed to a wide variety of artists involved in the Harlem Renaissance. His works are often collages or photomontages.
Bearden graduated from New York University with a degree in education, but almost immediately began working as a cartoonist for publications that included Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post. He studied under German artist George Grosz at the Art Students' League in 1936 and 1937. Shortly thereafter he began the first of his stints as a case worker for the New York Department of Social Services. During World War II, Bearden was in the US Army, serving from 1942 until 1945. During the 1940's, his style combined African culture and symbols with a stylized realism. Paintings such as his 1948, The Family demonstrate his interest in cubism and the influence that the style had on his work. After a stay in Paris, Bearden's work became more abstract, using layers of oil paint to produce muted, hidden effects. During the 1960's civil rights movement, his focus shifted again, to collage, considered his best work. An excellent example is his 1963 series of collages, Prevalence of Ritual.
Romare Bearden is also the coauthor (with Harry Henderson) of A History of African-American Artists. From 1792 to present (New York: Pantheon Books 1993), (with Harry Henderson), Six Black Masters of American Art (New York: Doubleday, 1972), (with Carl Holty) The Painter's Mind (Taylor & Francis, 1981), and author of Li'l Dan, the Drummer Boy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003).