Romare Bearden was an American artist, activist, and writer who is best remembered for his depictions of African American life within his innovative collages.
Born on September 2, 1911 in Charlotte, NC, Bearden moved with his family to Harlem in 1914. His parents’ household became a social and intellectual hub for luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance, visited by the likes of Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes.
From 1935 until 1937, Bearden was employed as a cartoonist for the Baltimore publication Afro-American, but for most of his life he worked as a social worker in New York, making art in his free time. He was a founding member of the Harlem Cultural Council and Black Academy of Arts, and was later elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972.
He received the Mayor’s Award of Honor for Art and Culture in New York in 1984 and the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Ronald Reagan, in 1987. He died on March 12, 1988 in New York, NY. His work is collected in several major American institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.