Romare Bearden is best known for his colorful collages, though he also created paintings, prints, and photographs throughout his prolific career. Born in North Carolina, Bearden's family moved to Harlem when he was a toddler, and he grew up among the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and continued to spend summers in the south. Rooted in the African-American experience, his work reflects the influences of his youth—urban and rural life, jazz, storytelling—as well as his later art education—Renaissance painting, modern art, African tribal sculpture, and Christian iconography.
In the 1930s, Bearden became active in the Harlem art scene and by the 1960s, he was central to the cultural community, helping to found the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Spiral Group, and the Cinqué Gallery, a venue for emerging artists. Bearden said, "It is not my aim to paint about the Negro in terms of propaganda . . . [but] the life of my people as I know it, passionately and dispassionately as Brueghel. My intention is to reveal through pictorial complexity the life I know." A critically acclaimed and groundbreaking artist, Bearden died in 1988.