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Estimate: $ 150,000 - $ 250,000
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911 - 1988) Girl in a Garden.
Collage of various papers and printed fabrics, with ink and surface abrasion, mounted on masonite board, 1972. 560x356 mm; 22x14 inches. Signed in blue ink, upper left.
Provenance: the artist; Cordier & Ekstrom, New York, with the gallery label on the frame back; private New York collection (1972); the estate of Allan O. Hunter, Jr., acquired at Swann Galleries, October 8, 2019.
Girl in a Garden is an exquisitely layered example of Romare Bearden's mid-career collage. The figure is comprised of a now familiar Bearden photo montage of African masks, in contrast with the textures and color of the rest of the composition. Bearden created faces using cut images of African masks and sculptures from magazines and exhibition catalogues beginning with his first series of collages in 1964. According to Helen Shannon in her 2007 essay "African Art and Cubism, Proto-Collage and Collage in the Work of Romare Bearden," Bearden used African sculpture as an aesthetic source even earlier in his 1940s paintings. Like his 1940s, quasi-cubist paintings, Bearden returned to African sources for large figure compositions again in the late 1960s.
This collage shows Bearden's integration of all types of his collage medium--patterned paper, fabric, hand colored paper, and distressed solid colored papers. Bearden also introduced surface abrasion as early as 1968, with more solid areas of color and less collage photographic images, and added fabric into his collage with works like She-BA, 1970, Patchwork Quilt, 1970, and Conjunction, 1971. In Girl in a Garden, Bearden deftly balances a composition of rectangular areas of color that emphasize the two-dimensional surface; with this spatial flatness, Bearden references both the history of Dutch and ancient Chinese painting, with an awareness of contemporary abstraction.
Bearden has created a new type of icon with these masked or conjure figures, mythological African Americans born of the Diaspora and the New World. Bearden continued to explore the subject of myth in his heroic Odysseus series that he began this same year. Tweedy p. 22.