Romare Bearden Foundation

foundation programs



The scholarly review of Bearden’s art, life and legacy is at the core of the Foundation’s mission.  As the custodian of his legacy, the Foundation has long recognized the gaps and the inconsistencies in scholarship on Bearden as a master visual artist and collagist as well as a scholar/author/educator/collaborator/jazz-aficionado/songwriter/institution-builder, who operated far beyond narrowly defined art historical parameters. 

The symposium series, established in 1998, significantly advances the Foundation’s mission and supports our ongoing effort to be an important resource to the field. Each symposium is held in collaboration with high education institutions across the country with the express purpose of bringing together a generational mix of scholars and artists who offer fresh ideas and an interdisciplinary approach to Bearden’s work. In 2007, Romare Bearden in the Modernist Tradition, was presented at Columbia College Chicago.

Presentations from each symposium are compiled and transcribed into a companion publication that examines in depth Bearden’s connection to modernism as an artist and scholar, which will be made available to the field.


Romare Bearden in the Public Realm

Romare Bearden’s art and life can be described as intimately connected by the rich texture of his African American history and experiences and by the artistic, intellectual, social and political pursuits that kept him engaged within and outside of his studio.

The symposium Romare Bearden in the Public Realm, panel discussions and conversations among scholars and artists to be presented in Pittsburgh in fall 2009, will examine this connection’s manifestation. The subject matter and sources that Bearden found within his own life experiences, from popular culture and art history, as well as in the political and social causes in which he participated all contributed to the artistic medium he used in his communicating with the public, beyond the walls of art galleries and museums.

The symposium will bring together scholars and artists from across the country to examine how Bearden, as a student of art and art history, often merged the message and medium in his art, especially in the form of political cartoons, public art commissions and prints, which enabled him to communicate with a broader public.


Description – Chicago symposium in retrospect.