Urban Realism and the American Scene
Romare Bearden (1911–1988)
After Church, 1941
A renowned African American collage artist and painter, Romare Bearden was born in the South but lived most of his life in New York City. His gouache painting After Church, completed after a lengthy visit to Georgia and his home state of North Carolina, marks the beginning of his engagement with Southern African Americans— particularly their families, faith, and livelihoods as farmers. The work depicts a small group of male congregants socializing outside a church. A man, who fills much of the picture plane, wipes perspiration from his face, while a boy stares outward toward the viewer, implying our inclusion in the scene. After Church represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s career, when abstracted figures and large swaths of color create a tension between representation and abstraction that Bearden would continue to exploit.
Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.