Organized by the High, this touring exhibition will be the first to bring dozens of works from Romare Bearden’s eminent “Profile” series together since its debut nearly 40 years ago.
In November 1977, The New Yorker magazine published a feature-length biography of Bearden (American, 1911–1988) as part of its “Profiles” series. The article brought national focus to the artist, whose rise had been virtually meteoric since the late 1960s, and the experience of the interview prompted Bearden to launch his autobiographical “Profile” collection. He sequenced the project in two parts: “Part I/The Twenties,” featuring memories from his youth in the South and in Pittsburgh, and “Part II/The Thirties,” about his early adult life in New York.
Inspired by the High’s recent acquisition of a key work from the series, “Something Over Something Else” will be the first exhibition to reassemble more than 30 collages from the series and to re-create the experience of its original presentations in 1978 and 1981, which featured accompanying wall texts Bearden wrote in collaboration with his friend Albert Murray, an essayist, jazz critic and novelist.
Beyond providing the opportunity to explore an understudied body of work, the exhibition will investigate the roles of narrative and self-presentation for an artist who made a career of creating works based on memory and experience. It will also reveal some of Bearden’s broader inspirations, which lend insight into American life in the first decades of the 20th century.