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In the Gallery: Passions of Christ by Romare Bearden,1945

Jul

02

Written by Jocelyn Boigenzahn, Curatorial Intern

After serving in the Army during World War II, Bearden created a series of cubist inspired watercolors and paintings and called, The Passion of Christ.  This this series was first exhibited at the Samuel Kootz Gallery in Bearden’s first New York show. Interestingly, most of the series was done in watercolor.  When Bearden was offered this solo exhibition at the Kootz Gallery in New York the dealer felt the series would benefit from the addition of a few oil paintings.

Romare Bearden (American, 1911 - 1988), Passions of Christ, 1945, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in., Gift of Halley K. Harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld, in honor of Diane and Tom Jacobsen, AG.2006.2.1.

Romare Bearden (American, 1911 – 1988), Passions of Christ, 1945, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in., Gift of Halley K. Harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld, in honor of Diane and Tom Jacobsen, AG.2006.2.1.

We don’t know how many oil paintings Bearden created in this series, but we do know that The Cummer has one of them.

The series and this painting are not so much a translation of a biblical text as it is a statement about the human condition, and the artist’s hope for the future of his race.  He completed 24 pieces based on the gospels of Sts. Matthew and Mark. The Passions of Christ depicts the anguished form of the crucifixion which bisects the composition dramatically.

To both left and right, distorted onlookers are encapsulated within washes of  gray, green, blue, purple, pink and highlighted with red shapes of color.

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