Bearden's approach to art making centered on fragmentation and recombination; he created richly textured collages depicting scenes of African American life using painted paper, photographs from magazines, newspaper, pieces of cloth, and other materials. His process was inspired by the improvisational and rhythmic elements of jazz; “In many ways it’s like putting a symphony together, or a piece of music,” he explained. In addition to collages, he made watercolors, photomontages, and prints. Train Whistle Blue No. 1 began as a collage that Bearden then photocopied in black and white and enlarged using a photostat machine. This innovative technique, which flattened the layers of his collage into a graphic image reminiscent of a film still, established Bearden as a leading contemporary artist.
Gallery label from Studio Visit: Selected Gifts from Agnes Gund, 2018