Romare Bearden's “Black Odyssey” Debuts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2012

WINSTON-SALEM – The first full-scale presentation outside of New York of Romare Bearden’s “Odysseus Series” will debut at Reynolda House Museum of American Art this Saturday, Oct. 13. “Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey” will be on view through Jan. 13, 2013.
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.
A new exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) features 55 Bearden works, including collages from the “Odysseus Series,” and watercolors and line drawings relating to his interest in classical themes. “Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey” will debut at Reynolda House Museum of American Art before continuing on a seven-city national tour through 2014.
“In creating a black Odyssey series, Bearden not only staked a claim to the tales of ancient Greece as having modern relevance, he also made the claim of global cultural collage-that as humans, we are all collages of our own unique experiences,” said O’Meally. “Indeed, Bearden does not merely illustrate Homer, he is Homer’s true collaborator, and he invites us as viewers to inherit Homer’s tale and interpret it as our own.”Reynolda House will present a series of exhibition-related events, inlcuding g Epic Thursdays: a four-week series of after-hours events; an academic symposium g “The Global Homer: The Odyssey in the Context of Diaspora” g Free admission for veterans from Oct. 13 through Thanksgiving weekend g Outreach services provided to veterans at the museum including Veterans Advocacy Law Organization, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the VA Rural Health Program throughout November.
For more information, visit or call 336-758-5150.