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Literary Gibbes Book Club Discussion

Left: Romare Bearden, <i>Eastern Gate</i>, ca. 1961. Oil on canvas. 55 7/8 x 44 inches. © Romare Bearden Foundation / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, NY and American Federation of Arts

Left: Romare Bearden, Eastern Gate, ca. 1961. Oil on canvas. 55 7/8 x 44 inches. © Romare Bearden Foundation / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, NY and American Federation of Arts

Join us for a book-club style discussion in collaboration with Charleston County Public Library inspired by Romare Bearden: Abstraction. With some 55 paintings, works on paper, and collages, this is the first exhibition to fully examine and contextualize the artist’s significant body of abstract work. Recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden’s prolific and distinguished career spanned nearly 50 years. The exhibition emphasizes the importance of abstraction in the artist's oeuvre, its significant contribution to the overall Bearden narrative, and marks the artist's place within the New York avant-garde of the 1950s-60s.

In the 1950s, Bearden explored the teachings of Zen Buddhism and Chinese calligraphy and painting with a bookseller and scholar he called Mr. Wu. This philosophy and these related artistic principles and techniques influenced his abstract work. In his classic introduction to Zen Buddhism, The Way of Zen, published in 1957, Alan Watts presents the origins, history, and principles of Zen, including a chapter on Zen and the arts, with clarity and relevant examples for a Western audience.

For more background on Romare Bearden and his introduction to Zen, read What Unknowing Things Know: Zen Liberation in the Art of Romare Bearden by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.

The discussion will focus on the book and the works in the exhibition. Please read the book so you can participate in the discussion. For more information, contact Becca Hiester at 843-722-2706x237 or [email protected]. The discussion will be a hybrid, meeting both in-person and virtually. Please select how you'd like to join when you register. Virtual log-in information will be provided closer to the meeting time. This program is free for all and includes a coupon for discounted admission for in-person attendees.

Currently the Gibbes Museum is requiring masks for all program attendees, regardless of vaccination status. Thank you for your understanding.

This exhibition is organized by the American Federation of the Arts in collaboration with The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY. The national tour of Romare Bearden: Abstraction is sponsored by Morgan Stanley.

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