October 13, 2012 January 13, 2013
Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing Gallery
In April 1977, at New York's Cordier & Ekstrom gallery, the American modernist Romare Bearden (19111988) installed twenty vibrant, richly composed collages under the title "Odysseus." The series was based on characters and episodes in Homer's Greek epic The Odysseyone of the foundational works of Western literature. Now, a new traveling exhibition reunites the 1977 series while expanding the scope of the original exhibition with watercolors and other relevant pieces from the artist's work. Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey kicks off its national tour at Reynolda House Museum of American Art on October 13, 2012.
A Black Odyssey simultaneously expands our view of the Bearden canon and his influence as an artist while reinforcing Homer's continuing relevance as a poet. To stress the universality of Homer's epic, Bearden made all of the Homeric gods, mortals, heroes, and villains black. This choice asserts that all viewers can relate to the central themes of the storythemes of longing, struggle, and perseverance.
The tale of the traveler's search for home was a theme that occupied Bearden, a transplant himself, over the long arc of his career. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1911, he moved with his family to Harlem as a young child, part of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to greater opportunity in the North. In many guises and media, Bearden created images of travelers on their way to and from home.
Curated by Robert G. O'Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the exhibition includes over fifty rarely-exhibited works on the theme of the Black Odyssey. Beautiful and powerful, the works featured in the exhibition create a gripping narrative that is accessible and complex, timeless and modern.
Visit reynoldahouse.org/epic for program information and more!
Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery. This exhibition and its related educational resources are supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Reynolda House is grateful for the local support of Major Sponsor Wake Forest University; Lead Sponsor Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; Contributing Sponsors North Carolina Arts Council, City of Winston-Salem, Belk, Inc., and Patty and Malcolm Brown; and Exhibition Partner Debra Conrad/Novant Health Board of Trustees.