Romare Bearden Artwork Analysis


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Bayou Fever Presentation

Romare Bearden Artwork Analysis: Introduction

Romare Bearden was an American painter who worked on collages of photographs, and he used the theme of American black culture in his artworks. In his earlier works in the mid-50s and 60s, he used the collages of photographs to express his main ideas, which were the visually powerful statements on Afro-American life (“Romare Bearden,” para. 2). In addition, Bearden used the collages that are made of cut during the 60s. However, he painted artworks before the collages in the 40s. Factory Workers painted in 1942, and Bearden alternated between social realist imagery, which he painted in a straightforward, documentary manner, and his more experimental, somewhat abstract biblical and religious subject matter, thus echoing the two strains of realism and abstraction, which competed for dominance during the mid-century (“Romare Bearden Paintings,” para. 6). Moreover, Romare Bearden collaborated with Alvin Ailey for Bayou Fever in the early 70s, and he created a storyline for the Bayou Fever, which was a dance performance. He combined the mythical characters with black individuals. In addition, the storyline occurred with 21 pieces of Bearden’s artwork.

Body Paragraphs

Bayou Fever is telling the story of good and evil, and also mythical African symbols are combined with the characters in the story. Therefore, The Swamp Witch and her demons are the evil characters, and the Herb woman and the Conjur Woman are the good characters of the story. Moreover, both the Herb Woman and the Swamp Witch are painted clearly in the story, but the Conjur Woman is less clear than the two other paintings. According to Bearden, the Conjur Woman was the healer. She had magical powers, and she represented the cultural memories because the Conjur Woman disrupted the Swamp Witch’s spell and saved the family’s child.

In addition, other characters in the Bayou Fever represents the African mythic symbols, and for example, The Lizard presents one of the Swamp Witch’s lackeys with his body jutting at extreme angles, arms thrown overhead; neon snakes, whose color matches a strip of jagged pink paper running along the right-hand vertical, slither around his torso. For the character’s face, Bearden has collaged and painted a photographic image of an African mask, evidence of a documented reality that somehow strengthened its surrealist quality (Holmes para.3). Therefore, the Bayou Fever becomes a voice of ancients gods and goddesses, and also Bearden asks the audience about this cultural image relations to present time because historical culture creates a background for the individuals to shape present. Moreover, Bearden discusses how ancients have the magical powers to heal or destroy. In addition, Bearden discusses the strengths of historical cultures bonds with the present.

Romare Bearden Artwork Analysis: Conclusion

In conclusion, Bearden’s collages brought a perspective about Afro-American Culture in the 20th century. His collages are unique and impressive at different angles. In addition, Bearden’s creativity in Bayou Fever is marvelous because the narrative structure of Bearden’s paintings is simple and archetypal; ritual, music, and family are his pervasive themes. His works’ complexity lies in their poetic abstraction, in which layered fragments of color and pattern evoke the rhythms, textures, and mysteries of a people’s experience (“Romare Bearden,” para. 2). Bearden combined the Afro-American culture and modern art to tell the narrative of ancient mythic symbols. Therefore, Bearden was one of the most creative artists in the 20th century. In addition, he used the different art movements forms and techniques to create a new for such as he used the Dadaist collage form and cubists two-dimensional technique in his artwork.


Holmes, Jessica. “Romare Bearden: Bayou Fever and Related Works.” The Brooklyn Rail, 28 Apr. 2017,

“Romare Bearden Paintings, Bio, Ideas.” The Art Story,

“Romare Bearden.” Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 Mar. 2020,

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Zendaya Kane
Zendaya Kane
Content Lead at Tamara Research. Major in Advertising, loves working.

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