Spring Way

Media - 1999.9 - SAAM-1999.9_1 - 81699
Copied Romare Bearden, Spring Way, 1964, collage on paperboard, sheet and image: 6 589 38 in. (16.823.8 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design, 1999.9

Artwork Details

Spring Way
Not on view
sheet and image: 6 589 38 in. (16.823.8 cm.)
backing mat lower right in ink stamped and in pencil: SFMMA/Wheat Starch X (in a box) Other______/Board 100% RAG (underlined) DATE 11.20.84 (underlined) mount verso upper center in pencil: 30 x 40 128 (written upside-down) mount verso lower center in blue ballpoint pen and ink: K# 2635 mount verso lower center in black ballpoint pen and ink: A (in a circle)
Credit Line
Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design
Mediums Description
collage on paperboard
  • Landscape
  • Cityscape — street — alley
  • Modern art movement — collage
  • Cityscape — Pennsylvania — Pittsburgh
  • Cityscape — street — Spring Way
  • Architecture Exterior — domestic — house
Object Number

Artwork Description

In July 1963, a month before Martin Luther King’s historic march on Washington, D.C., 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.” The bleak and unforgiving sense of place in Spring Way, which was named for an alley near the Pittsburgh boardinghouse owned by Bearden’s grandmother, reflects the strong social conscience that inflected Bearden’s work anew in the 1960s.

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