In 1977, African-American artist Romare Bearden (1911–1988) created a landmark series of collages and watercolors based on Homer’s classic work of Western literature, The Odyssey. The artist’s Black Odyssey series expanded his earlier explorations of historical narratives and artistic genres by presenting his own reinterpretation of the subject.
Through the approximately 50 works of art, Bearden recasts Homer’s celebrated heroes and villains as black people, transforming the epic poem into a poignantly universal story. As the artist stated, “All of us are on a kind of odyssey. And I think this is what makes the story so lasting, so classic, and applicable to everyone.”
Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Romare Bearden Foundation, DC Moore Gallery, and the curator of the exhibition, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and founder of the Center for Jazz Studies, Robert G. O’Meally. It is supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.