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Jammin' at the Savoy

Romare Bearden (1911–1988) Jammin' at the Savoy, n.d. Mixed-media collage, in artist-painted mat 13 7/8 × 23 1/8 in. The Studio Musuem in Harlem; gift of Mrs. Frank Saunders 1991.24

Romare Bearden was heavily inspired by the spontaneous, fragmented, and deconstructed nature of improvisational jazz, which he incorporated into his collages by layering components from a variety of disparate sources to create a rich narrative. Here, the relationship with music is made literal by his depiction of a performance in full swing, with each figure in the throes of playing an instrument against a background of wavy bands of color.