Romare Bearden. The Train. 1975

Romare Bearden The Train 1975

  • Not on view

Having grown up during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Romare Bearden devoted his life and art to redefining, as he said, "the image of man in terms of the Negro experience I know best." After painting as a Social Realist in the 1930s and 1940s, and then in a mode derived from Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, Bearden ultimately found his own voice in the imaginative collages he made from 1964 on. Using a fragmented style inspired by the rhythms of jazz, he assembled magazine clippings into phantasmagorical invocations of the myths and rituals of black American life.

Bearden did not take up printmaking seriously until the late 1960s, when he began to frequent the Printmaking Workshop, a non-profit studio run by his longtime friend, the artist and master printer Robert Blackburn. Over the next two decades he worked there and with other publishers and printers, eventually completing more than one hundred editioned prints in various techniques, as well as dozens of monotypes. Many of Bearden's prints, particularly his lithographs and screenprints, are based on existing collages and monotypes.

With Blackburn's encouragement he also made some experimental collagraphs and intaglio prints that engage the collage process and printmaking in unusual and inventive ways. In The Train, for example, he recast a 1964 collage by adding new textures and colors. This was achieved by using mesh screens and photography to generate the photogravure plate, which was subsequently cut up so colored areas could be inked separately and reassembled jigsaw style for printing.

The train of this print's title is a small detail at the upper left, but it nonetheless invokes larger issues of migration and segregation. As Bearden said, trains "could take you away and could also bring you to where you were. And in the little towns it's the black people who live near the trains."

Publication excerpt from an essay by Starr Figura, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 221.
Medium
Photogravure and aquatint
Dimensions
plate: 17 11/16 x 22 1/8" (44.9 x 56.2 cm); sheet: 22 1/4 x 30 1/8" (56.5 x 76.5 cm)
Publisher
Transworld Art, New York
Printer
Printmaking Workshop, New York
Edition
125
Credit
Purchase
Object number
250.1975
Copyright
© Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, NY, NY
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.