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Highlights: Permanent Collection

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Image of Back Home from Up the Country

Romare Bearden
American, 1911–1988

Back Home from Up the Country


Object Type: Painting
50 1/4 in. x 40 in. (127.64 cm x 101.6 cm)
Medium and Support: Mixed media collage on Masonite
Accession Number: 2004.0006

Credit Line: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase
Copyright: © Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

In 1969 Bearden created "Back Home from Up the Country" by combining photographically derived images, culled from publications, with painted sheets of paper. It is part of the larger thematic grouping, “The Prevalence of Ritual,” which was also the title of an important exhibition of Bearden’s work held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1971. ("Back Home from Up the Country" appeared in this show.) The series “The Prevalence of Ritual” includes many works that refer to Bearden’s childhood home in rural Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Some elements seen in this work are repeated throughout Bearden’s oeuvre, serving as icons for his statements about life in America. One such icon is the railroad, a means of moving from one place and one mode of life, to another. The train refers both to the nineteenth-century Underground Railroad, the path to freedom for Southern slaves, and to the migration of Southern blacks to the Northern cities in the early twentieth century. The window indicates the artwork’s function as a mirror of life and a reflection of a particular point of view. The figures’ exaggerated hands emphasize craftsmanship and the importance of artistic creativity.

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