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From process to print: graphic works by Romare Bearden at the Chicago Cultural Center


From Process to Print: Graphic works by Romare Bearden ran until June 27th at the Chicago Cultural Center. The artist’s “extraordinary versatility” shines through in this exhibit’s “seventy-five lithographs, etchings, and prints” selected from “Bearden’s three decades of work.”

Romare Bearden, Interior, Collagraph plate and Collagraph/Relief Print Copyright 1972, photograph by J. Kronika.

Romare Bearden, Interior, Detail, Collagraph plate. Photograph by J. Kronika.

With a career spanning fifty some years, the artist explored themes of his life, including childhood experiences, such as the gathering of Harlem Renaissance luminaries Langston Hughes, Aaron Douglas and Duke Ellington in his family home. In the thirties, Bearden joined the Harlem Artists Guild and began to attend classes at the New York Art Student’s League.

Romare Bearden, The Family, Etching, Aquatint, Edition of 25, copyright 1975, Photograph by J. Kronika.

In the 1960’s Bearden began his romance with collage, and discovered an affinity with printmaking processes. “Bearden’s use of collage places him squarely in the modernist tradition…with [artist,] Stuart Davis…[of using] collage as a kind of visual parallel to the very American- specifically African-American- musical form of Jazz.”

Romare Bearden, Jazz, photoengraphure, Photograph courtesy of Chicago Cultural Center website.

Utilizing syncopation, repetition, intervals, scale and compositional inversion… equally applied to the musical and creative printmaking genres, Bearden created visual melodies with weighted cultural significance.

Romare Bearden, Le Jazz, (Out Chorus II), lithograph with thining agents, copyright 1986-87, Photograph by J. Kronika.

In the 1980’s Bearden reduced his palette, and incorporated more simplified forms, lines and colors. Some of his work from this period was produced to support his wife Nanette’s dance company. Among these works is the technically ambitious, Homage to Mary Lou, which employs eighteen colors, used eighteen separate lithographic plates to produce, and introduces collaged textural elements.

Romare Bearden, Homage to Mary Lou, lithograph (working proof on right), limited edition of 100, copyright 1984, Photograph by J. Kronika.

This work, produced at the atelier of Joseph Kleinman and Maureen Turci in New York, was printed in a limited series of twenty. Drawn on to the lithographic plates with a combination of lithographic pencil and tushe, a liquid drawing medium that has watercolor-like effects, this print exhibits Bearden’s experimentation at its most ambitious.

Romare Bearden, The Father Comes Home, (The Bayou series), Collage on masonite (at right) and Lithograph (at left), copyright 1970’s, Photograph by J. Kronika.

This exhibit was made possible with the generous support of the Terra Foundation for American Art and was organized by the Romare Bearden Foundation, New York, NY. The exhibition tour was organized and managed by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA.

Romare Bearden, Pepper July Lady, lithograph with added border, trial proof of edition of 150, copyright 1980, Photograph by J. Kronika.

The catalog for this exhibit: From Process to Print: Graphic works by Romare Bearden, organized by the Romare Bearden Foundation, with an essay by Mary Lee Corlett is available through the Chicago Cultural Center Shop.

For more information about the Chicago Cultural Center:

For more information about Romare Bearden, visit the Romare Bearden Foundation’s website:

For more about the artist’s life and times visit: &

For more art from Romare Bearden:



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