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Mother and Child

1971 Romare Bearden Born: Charlotte, North Carolina 1911 Died: New York, New York 1988 collage on paperboard 27 1/2 x 18 3/8 in. (69.8 x 46.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Edith S. and Arthur J. Levin 2005.5.3 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

In July 1963, a month before Martin Luther King’s historic march on Washington, Bearden and eleven other artists formed a group called Spiral to discuss how they could contribute to the civil rights movement. The moment was cathartic for Bearden, and he began making collages based on memories of black life in Pittsburgh, the rural south, and Harlem. He needed, he said, “to redefine the image of man in terms of the Negro experience.” Although the composition of Mother and Child echoes Renaissance paintings of the Madonna, Bearden configured the mother’s face as part modern woman and part Ife mask.

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008



Figure group - family - mother and child