Alumnus brings Romare Bearden collection to campus

Russell Goings Jr. shares one of most significant private collections in U.S. with University | October 19, 2005

One of the most significant private collections of works by renowned American artist Romare Bearden is on display at the University through Nov. 4.

The collection is on loan from Bearden’s close friend and Class of 1959 member Russell Goings. Goings met Bearden in 1976 at a New York art gallery. The two began a friendship that started with a discussion about football and lasted through Bearden’s nearly three-year fight with cancer and his death in 1988. According to The New York Times, during Bearden’s illness, Goings “accumulated 40 hours of audiotape, four hand-written diaries and substantial bodies of correspondence and art work.”

Goings is sharing the drawings, paintings and prints with the University in an exhibit titled “The Unseen Romare Bearden,” which is on display at the A.B. Cohen Center. Goings attended the opening of the exhibit to take part in Xavier and community events related to Bearden’s work.

“Mr. Goings could have chosen to display this extraordinary collection anywhere in the country,” says Byron P. White, director for the Community Building Institute at Xavier. “The fact that he chose his alma mater is a triumph for Xavier and the Greater Cincinnati community. It is even more special that he will be here personally to share in this distinctive and outstanding event.”

Bearden had a prolific and distinguished career and is recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th century. In 1987, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan. In 2003, Bearden was honored with a major retrospective, The Art of Romare Bearden, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., becoming the first African-American so honored in the institution’s history.

From the mid-1930s through 1960s, Bearden was a social worker in New York, working on his art at night and on weekends. His success as an artist was recognized with his first solo exhibition in Harlem in 1940 and his first solo show in Washington, D.C., in 1944. During his lifelong study of art he gathered inspiration from Western masters ranging from Duccio, Giotto and de Hooch to Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse, as well as from African art (particularly sculpture, masks and textiles), Byzantine mosaics, Japanese prints and Chinese landscape paintings.

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