11 OCTOBER 2012 / Romare Bearden’s “A Black Odyssey” Traveling Exhibition Debuts at Reynolda House Museum of American Art Oct. 13, with major support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation

The exhibition, “Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey” will debut at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. on October 12, remaining on view through Jan. 13, 2013 before embarking on a seven-city US national tour ending in New York City in 2014.


Organized by Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery, “Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey” and its related educational resources are supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. 

Curated by renowned English and jazz scholar Robert G. O’Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, the Smithsonian exhibition features some 55 works, including collages, watercolors and line drawings as well as additional compositions relating to Bearden’s interest in classical themes. 

In 1977, Romare Bearden (1911-1988), one of the most powerful and original artists of the 20th century, created a cycle of collages and watercolors based on Homer’s epic poem, “The Odyssey.” Rich in symbolism and allegorical content, Bearden’s “Odysseus Series” created an artistic bridge between classical mythology and African American culture. The works conveyed a sense of timelessness and the universality of the human condition, but their brilliance was displayed for only two months in New York City before being scattered to private collections and public art museums. This exhibition represents the first full-scale presentation of these works outside of New York City.

DC Moore Gallery represents a lively mix of more than 20 contemporary artists, and also offers the finest in 20th century American painting, sculpture, and works on paper, including modernism, ashcan, African American, regionalism, social realism, and mid-century abstraction. Founded in 1995, the gallery also represents Bearden’s foundation and estate. 

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for nearly 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.