August 5 - November 11, 2017

The only children’s book ever written and illustrated by legendary American artist Romare Bearden, Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy. The book, published in 2003, features illustrations by Bearden completed in 1983 that tell the story of Li’l Dan. The original illustrations are on display in this exhibition.

“Li’l Dan, a slave on a Southern plantation, loves to play his drum. When a company of Union soldiers announce that the slaves have been set free, Dan has no place to go, so he follows the soldiers, who make him their mascot. But confederate soldiers attack, and Dan discovers that he is the only one who can save his friends.”
- Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy, introduction

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1911, Romare Bearden, by the time of his death in 1988, had achieved a stature known by few artists during their lifetimes. He was, and still is, considered America's greatest collagist and was thus honored by receiving the National Medal of Arts in 1987 from then President Reagan. The artist's works are in the permanent collections of most every major American Museum including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrospectives of Bearden's art have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art, the Mint Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Council for Creative Projects.

Throughout his life, Bearden depicted many rituals and social customs of twentieth century rural Black America. The images of spiritual ceremonies, baptisms and burial, industrial hardships, musical arrangements and daily life have become the themes that critics and collectors most frequently associate with his work. Visually and emotionally stimulating, Romare Bearden's collages and prints are beautiful to behold and fantastic to contemplate.

Courtesy of Jerald Melberg Gallery and the Romare Bearden Foundation.


Romare Bearden: "Li'l Dan the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story

Image Credit: Courtesy of the Jerald Melberg Gallery and the Romare Bearden Foundation.