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Romare Bearden (1911—1988) Prelude to Farewell, 1981 Collage 49 × 37 1/4 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Altria Group, Inc.. 2008.13.2
Drawing from a variety of art historical sources, including Cubism, Byzantine mosaics, and Mexican murals, Romare Bearden created semi-abstract works that explore the richness of everyday black life. Here, he constructed a domestic space, foregrounding two starkly different figures. One, elaborately dressed and displaying a face inspired by African masks, is seated beside a glowing lamp. The second, nude and bathing over a basin, stands farther behind her. The layered composition offers a glimpse into an intimate moment.