Bearden Time, Collage for The Bearden Project – Studio Museum in Harlem

Bearden Time, cutout collage by Vincent Johnson (2011). This work was created in my studio in September of 2011 for the Studio Museum in Harlem's "The Bearden Project." I researched into how Romare Bearden created his magnificent collages, then decided to use some of his techniques combined with those of my own. Bearden would score, scratch, and cut into his images. The large red central figure in this work was created using a type of paper that I had used over 15 years ago to create portraits by removing the shiny slick color surface with an exacto knife. I also used the knife's point to draw into the paper and remove some of the materials. It felt good getting back to some of the work I had done well into my past but had stopped. In this instance I did not want to do an overall collage that used every part of the surface. I wanted to convey something of the mood of New York when I was a student, and had heard that Romare Bearden had a studio on Canal Street. I imagined it was not far away from Pearl Paint.

Here is my Bearden Time collage standing up while I photograph it with my iphone to be able to send an image to the museum of the completed work. I used everything from soap to wet clothes to brillo pads to work the surface. I fixed the images to the paper using Nova Gel. I then painted completely over each image with the NOVA GEL to force the photo paper to adhere to the paper's surface. The outer photos are created by doing a doll-like cutout from a magazine, then I cut into the printed photo papers using the cutout as a basic guide but allowing me to go in any direction I so choose.

Vincent Johnson, Bearden Time (2011), The Bearden Project, Studio Museum in Harlem. The exhibition will be at the Studio Museum for four months!

It was fun doing this piece and it has inspired me to do several more. I had already done a few montages starting in 2008 using found images. Using Bearden’s techniques opened the door for me to use my oldest skill sets that are now coming back into my work as never before. In September of this year I produced my first body of new paintings in well over a decade. And they are abstract grayscale paintings, something that I would have never done in the past. I’ve been working with photography over the past decade and produced one large-scale sculptural work based on a 12 foot long 1950’s Chrysler Air Raid Siren and was part of a five artist team that created a 58 foot long sculptural simulation of Brancusi’s Endless Column crashing into the museum’s gallery.

If you’d like to check out more of my work go here to this link:

Bearden Time, detail (1 of 4)

Bearden Time, detail (2 of 4)

Bearden Time, detail (3 of 4)

Bearden Time, (4 of 4)

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