ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)
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Property from the Collection of Myron Calhoun
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)

Mecklenburg Morning

Details
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)
Mecklenburg Morning
signed 'Bearden' (lower left)
watercolor, graphite and printed paper collage on panel
9 x 6 in. (22.9 x 15.2 cm.)
Executed in 1979.
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, 1979
Exhibited
Romare Bearden, 1970-1980, exh. cat., Charlotte, Mint Museum of Art, 1980, p. 109, no. 305.

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Lot Essay

“It is not my aim to paint about the Negro in America in terms of propaganda. It is to depict the life of my people as I know it, passionately and dispassionately as Brueghel. My intention is to reveal through pictorial complexities the life I know.”
– Romare Bearden

Teeming with energy and complex layers of vibrant color and form, Mecklenburg Morning, exemplifies Romare Bearden’s most celebrated collage technique and narrative prowess. Executed in 1979, this mixed media collage offers an omniscient glimpse into interior domestic life in the South. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bearden conjures nostalgic memories of his childhood, infused with ancestral stories and art historical influences, within his Mecklenburg County series. Set against a beautifully patterned purple backdrop, a classical nude poses at center, her gaze focused on an attentive and authoritative woman in a rocking chair, quilted in a humble robe exuding warmth, comfort and elderly wisdom. Rendered with pasted paper in light fuscia, the expansive window at upper left represents the glowing hopefulness of dawn. With incredible spatial economy, whereby all negative space creates an opportunity for rich layering of high-key paper collage elements, Bearden leverages every inch of the intimately-scaled composition.
Acquired directly from the artist’s studio in 1979, Mecklenburg Morning has been in the same private collection for over forty years. Alabama-native, Myron Calhoun revered Bearden from as early as his sophomore year of college. “Are there any black artists?”, Calhoun recalls asking as a young and curious arts student. During a lecture on “minority artists” led by the University of South Alabama’s visiting professor James Kennedy, Calhoun was struck by the bold color and pulsating figures within Bearden’s reimagined spaces, and remained captivated with his work for the decades that followed. It was through tenacity and persistence that Calhoun managed to meet his idol, and a friendship based on mutual respect, support and gratitude was forged. During visits down South and up in New York, the Beardens and the Calhouns looked forward to dinners filled with long discussions about life and art. Mecklenburg Morning, which Calhoun hand-selected from Bearden’s Canal Street studio, acts as a distinct and treasured token of life-long patronage and influence.

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