Griots for a Global Village

December 10, 2011
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This year marks the 100th birthday of Romare Bearden, and yesterday’s article by Holland Cotter (with a slideshow) noted several ongoing celebrations of his work. Bringing together several themes in this blog, Cotter’s article is titled “Griot for a Global Village.” Bearden’s visual storytelling adapts rhythms and motifs from traditional forms and makes them new, as did several other Harlem artists of the 1930s. Jacob Lawrence spoke of the interwoven fabric of visual and narrative art that emerged in that period, when he explored writing and Ralph Ellison studied sculpture.
    Bearden’s Foundation shows the broad sweep of that vision in his case, and how it continues to influence the way we see stories. There you find the statement about his influence by the griot of American 20th century theater, August Wilson: “What I saw was Black life presented on its own terms, on a grand and epic scale, with all its richness and fullness.”

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