Collage of various colored and printed papers and pencil on masonite board, 1968. 1016x762 mm; 40x30 inches. Signed in blue ink, lower right recto. Signed, titled and dated in blue ink and inscribed "40"/30"" in ink, upper right verso.
Provenance: gifted directly from the artist; private collection, Long Island, New York.
Woman and Child is an impressive Romare Bearden collage, a signficant work from an important 1968 series of collaged figures, each on 40x30 inch boards. Romare Bearden here incorporates brightly colored printed papers with grey photographic images to represent the black skin of the mother, including her face, eyes, chest and hands. Other collages from this 1968 series include Eastern Barn in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Farmer in the collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem and Woman and Child in the collection of the Crocker Art Museum.
Romare Bearden demonstrates his many layered approach in constructing these 1968 collages - drawing on an extensive knowledge of art history, music and literature. Bearden's composition here, as in many of his mother and child imagery, is clearly inspired by his study of Renaissance paintings and the iconic imagery of the Madonna and Child. Here Bearden creates a bold image of a Black Madonna, a symbol of the strength and power of African American womanhood of the times and one that also recalls the pioneering 1930s religious imagery of Allan Rohan Crite. The powerful figure of the woman and child is constructed with his deft and bold composition of cut and torn multi-colored papers. The stacking and abutting of flat shapes of color to build up the figures also recalls Henri Matisse's late collages.