Chazen Museum of Art


Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

August 31 to November 24 | Pleasant T. Rowland Galleries

August 31 through November 24, 2013

In 1977, Romare Bearden created a series of collages and watercolors based on Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Rich in symbolism and allegorical content, Bearden’s Odyssey series created an artistic bridge between classical mythology and African American culture. These 50 works represent the first full-scale presentation of Bearden’s Odyssey in decades, along with Bearden’s watercolor variations of the collages, line drawings, and additional compositions with classical themes. This exhibition invites visitors to explore the artist’s most pervasive and important theme—the heroic traveler’s search for a way home.

Exhibition-related programming

Sept. 5: Exhibition reception and curator lecture

  • 5:30 p.m.: Curator lecture, We Are All a Collage: Romare Bearden, Toni Morrison, Duke Ellington,” by Robert G. O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University
  • 6:30–8 p.m.: Reception with the Richard Slayton Trio, refreshments, and a cash bar

Sept. 26, 7 p.m.: San Francisco–based Afro-Centric jazz musicians Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids, featuring Babatunde Lea and Heshima Mark Williams. Presented with support from the UW–Madison Office of the Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer.

Sept. 28, 12:30–3:30 p.m.: Children’s collage-making activities with Helen Burish and Robert Elland, plus docent tours of the exhibition

  • 12:30–2 p.m.: children aged 5–12 (2nd grade and younger should be accompanied by adult)
  • 2–3:30 p.m.: children aged 13 and older

Oct. 5, 12:30–4 p.m.: A Chazen ART•SPIN Community Celebration – featuring live performances by local musicians and arts groups, hands-on activities, and exhibition tours. Schedule will be available at ART•SPIN events are presented for the Madison community with support from area businesses and organizations.

Oct. 26, 12:30–3:30 p.m.: A Chazen ART•SPIN Afternoon, with exhibition tours, music from 12:30–1 p.m. by Leotha Stanley and Friends, and at 1:30 p.m. a flipbook workshop with artist and animator Odalo Wasikhongo. ART•SPIN events are presented for the Madison community with support from area businesses and organizations.

Nov. 2, 12:30–5:15 p.m.: “Romare Bearden’s Black Odyssey and the Quest for Self-Definition: A Symposium.” Sponsored by the UW–Madison Department of Afro-American Studies, the Odyssey Project, and the Chazen Museum of Art. Room L140, Elvehjem Building. Schedule will be available at

Nov. 7, 7 p.m.: Bridge Poetry Series. Invited Wisconsin poets read their original work inspired by the exhibition

Nov. 14, 7 p.m.: Dramatic Readings. Patrick Sims and students from the UW Department of Theatre and Drama read excerpts from plays by August Wilson.

Drop-in docent tours, Thursdays, 4 p.m., Sept. 12–Nov. 21

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery. The exhibition and its related educational resources are supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Generous local support for this exhibition has been provided by the Chazen Museum of Art Council, Dane Arts, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

IMAGE ABOVE: Romare Bearden (1912–1988), Cattle of the Sun God, 1977, collage, © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Courtesy Ann and Sheldon Vogel

EXHIBITIONS PAGE THUMBNAIL: Romare Bearden (1912–1988), The Sea Nymph, 1977, collage, © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Courtesy Glen and Lynn Tobias

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