From SF Weekly;
In the early weeks of 1969, protesters gathered before the entrances of New York City's major art museums to complain about the institutions' treatment of African-American artists. The public demonstrations faulted the museums for ignoring the achievements of contemporary black painters and sculptors and shunning the input of black curators.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one activist handed out leaflets that called the neglect an "insidious segregation," while at the Museum of Modern Art, one demonstrator held a sign, "Retrospective for Romare Bearden Now," that championed an artist who should have been a household name.
Four decades later, everything has changed, and it's hard to believe that someone like Bearden was once absent from the walls of America's foremost exhibit halls. A traveling show now at the Museum of the African Diaspora presents him in his full majesty, including the collage work that came to define him for a more general audience.
In the '60s and '70s, Bearden's collages - heaps of faces, limbs, and objects that told epic narratives of their subjects - made the covers of well-known publications. Bearden peopled his art with African-Americans who had big, expressive eyes; made each body a mélange of cutouts, so that shoulders, hands, and feet were out of proportion; and played with iconic symbols from the present and the past, like U.S. flags, African masks, and jazz instruments.