CAM Compass, a foundation devoted to building the collection of the Cameron Art Museum, voted on “24” from Burk Uzzle.
Bearden, born in Charlotte in 1911, grew up in New York City and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from New York University in 1935. He began his artistic career with scenes from the American South. He later worked to express the humanity he felt was lacking in the world after his experience in the US Army during World War II on the European front. In 1950 he returned to Paris and studied art history and philosophy at the Sorbonne.
Bearden’s early work focused on unity and collaboration within the African American community. Bearden became a founding member of the Harlem-based art group The Spiral, which was formed to discuss the African American artist’s responsibilities in the civil rights movement. He wrote and co-authored several books. He was also a songwriter, best known for co-writing the jazz classic “Sea Breeze,” which was recorded by Billy Eckstine, a former Peabody High School classmate, and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1987 Bearden was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
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“Conjunction” is reminiscent of Bearden’s memories, who grew up near his grandparents in the Mecklenburg district and saw and overheard conversations in the backyard. “The Family” is a classic example of a Mecklenburg landscape motif, a theme Bearden pursued throughout his career. It is reminiscent of rituals: dinner, an evening bath.
The first artwork Compass ever voted for was by Burk Uzzle, an artist whose career spanning more than 50 years documenting and interpreting American culture has been an untypical narrative about ourselves, values, and raw history as Americans to see. During the 16 years he was associated with Magnum, he produced the most iconic images of Woodstock (album cover and worldwide reproduction of the iconic couple hugging at dawn), the murder and funeral of Martin Luther King Jr refugees. Uzzle arrived in Memphis in 1968, just hours after the news of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King became known.
On Thursday, August 12th, the museum will show a current documentary about the life and work of Uzzle “F11 and Be There”. Check out the trailer: https://www.f11andbethere.com/.