Monday, January 23, 2012

Beardon + Bearden (for Bearden or Beardon)

Today's typo was taken from real life, i.e., the schedule for a series of art films being shown at the State Museum every Thursday at noontime all throughout January and February. The one I saw last week was entitled "The Art of Romare Bearden," but the subject's last name was misspelled Beardon on the handout. Romare Bearden was an African-American artist born in Charlotte, North Carolina, although he was raised and lived most of his life in New York City, where he became a well-known figure in the Harlem Renaissance. There seems to be some dispute as to the year of his birth: Wikipedia puts it at 1911; according to his obituary in The New York Times, it was 1912; and Bearden himself claims during an interview (unless this was a transcription error) that he was born in 1914. Bearden discovered his love of art (starting with cartoons) while in high school, but didn't become serious about it until after he graduated from NYU with a science degree (he had planned to be a doctor) in 1935. He was very prolific and wide-ranging in his output, but is probably best known for his works of collage and assemblage. Bearden focused on the "black experience," but had a very catholic view of humanity. (He was light-skinned enough to "pass" and was told he could pitch for a major league baseball team because of it; the author Elton Fax once described him as "black by choice.") During that 1968 interview at the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, Bearden stated: "If you equate a lot of the things that happened in Negro life you see there's a continuity with many of the great classical things that have happened before. And this is what I tried to find in my work, this connotation of many of the things that have happened to me with the great classical things of the past." Today's combination typo was found four times in OhioLINK and 24 times in WorldCat.

("After Church" by Romare Bearden, 1941, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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