Michael C. Carlos Museum
Reception Hall, Level Three
Dr. Robert O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, and curator of the exhibition Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey gives a lecture titled Drawing Us Together: Bearden, Homer, and the Tradition of the Improviser.
In this lecture, Dr. O’Meally will emphasize improvisation as a strategy both for making art and for moving through the briarpatch of our modern world. Homer was an improvising teller of very old tales. So were James Joyce, Toni Morrison, and Bearden’s buddy Ralph Ellison. The Odyssey’s hero is no less a shape-shifting improviser than Melville’s Confidence Man or Ellison’s Rinehart. Bearden, who was as strongly influenced by jazz music—by the pianist Earl Hines in particular—as by literature, revises the Dutch Masters, the Cubists, and the Harlem Renaissance painters to suit his artistic project. As a collagist, what parts and pieces did Bearden add to art history that were not there before?