Last week I drove by car for a late-morning appointment in NYC.

The highway route from Westchester took me along the Hudson River by way of the Henry Hudson Parkway.

The view was spectacular. The sky was bright blue and filled with round, puffy clouds – the kind children draw.

The clouds seen in the image above are called cumulous clouds.

As I drove along the highway, the clouds marched in a stately parade across the sky, white against brilliant blue. There was a ribbon of green grass along the highway with a blacktop pathway for cyclists and runners, and the grey blue green waves of the Hudson River were lapping along the water’s edge, reflecting sunlight from above.

The clouds reminded me of the clouds I saw in a collage painting by Romare Bearden (1911-1988), on view recently at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in NYC (the show Romare Bearden: COLLAGE, A Centennial Celebration, closed May 21, 2011).

The online exhibition is worth a look. I’ve included a link to the Gallery press release that says “The works in this exhibition reflect the artist’s belief that art is made from other art. This idea is literally present in the act of collage-making –- taking images, colors and forms out of one context, altering them, and juxtaposing them with other pre-existing images, colors and forms to create something new. Read more…

Romare Bearden

The work by Bearden I remember so well was titled “The Train Whistles”  seen above (image the Internet).

It’s a large work compared to most works by Bearden, 31×40 inches, and a masterful mix of painterly passages, papers and striped and patterned fabric.

I saw the show twice before it closed.

I kept returning to see the Train Whistles and look again at how Bearden used his papers, and how he created his clouds.

I check the Internet and learned that a cloud is a visible mass of water droplets suspended in the sky above the surface of a body of land or water, and the droplets are so small and light they can float on the air.

The shape of a cloud depends on the moisture content in the air. The clouds are white because they reflect the light of the sun.

Bearden used different papers to create his clouds, combining multiple, subtly different shades of white with some torn edges against cut edges, layered with just the right spaces along the edges in between the papers to suggest depth and mass.

Romare Bearden

The image above is another Bearden collage in the recent Michael Rosenfeld Gallery exhibition. This one, titled “Watching the Good Trains Go By” (1969) is mixed media collage on board and is 9 x 12 inches.  (image the Internet)

Like many of Bearden’s works, it contrasts strong, bright colors against black and white magazine and newspaper images in shades of grey. The colors are green and blue in paper and paint, and red and white patterned polka dot and red and cream in gingham checked fabric.

There’s a single cloud in the deep blue sky against a bright emerald green ground.

It was such a treat to see the works at the Michael Rosenberg Gallery exhibition. See more images online.

I hope you also got to see the show at the gallery.


If you want to see more works by Bearden and are in NYC, please contact the Romare Bearden Foundation to find out about the ArtCrawl Harlem: The Strivers Garden Gallery (300 West 135th Street at St. Nicholas Ave.) that will present “Bearden at 100” (August 4th – October 9th, 2011).

See “Spiral: Perspectives on an African-American Collective (July 14th – October 23rd, 2011) presented by The Studio Museum in Harlem (144 West 125th Street).

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Boulevard) presents Romare Bearden: The Soul of Blackness/A Centennial Tribute (July 15 – January 7, 2012).

 Read more about all the exhibitions…

As I got closer to my highway exit at 26th Street, the traffic slowed to a crawl. I had to drive crosstown to 6th Avenue.

I was listening to the Pachebal Canon on classical radio and wasn’t troubled by the delays and traffic. It seemed I had all the time in the world.

And the advantage of the traffic (advantage of traffic?) was that I was driving and stopping. It allowed me to take some photos from the car when I had to stop for a traffic light.

The image above is from my car. I am looking north on 6th Avenue. I was at 26th Street.  The uptown view almost doesn’t look like a city street in NYC – but it is and you get to see the clouds against the city buildings.

Today I will drive into the City again – even though I prefer to take a train to Grand Central Terminal in order to avoid traffic.

I hope it’s another beautiful day with another amazing view along the way.

Questions for You: Are you a fan of collage and Romare Bearden? Did the information I shared about his work inspire you? Please add your comments below. Thanks for reading this post.

8 thoughts on “CLOUDS AND COLLAGE

  1. Dear Nancy, This is one of my favorite Art of Collage pieces. Reading your descriptions of the clouds, of Bearden, of your rides to the City were a perfect way to begin my day here in New Jersey.
    Thanks for letting me know about the Bearden shows, too. Looking forward to your next article.


    1. Dear Valerie, Thank you for your comments. I only wish the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery show was still up and I could go back and look at the Bearden works some more. Do you think you will visit Harlem?

      Best, Nancy

    1. Dear Dorothea, I’m glad you also love Bearden’s work. Did you see the exhibition at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery?

  2. Greetings! I’ve been reading your website for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

    1. Thanks Betsey for the compliments. The nice thing is – I reread the post and got to look at the clouds again. I’ve never been to Austin, TX. What is the sky and skyline like? Do you follow Romare Bearden’s exhibitions?

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