About This Artwork

Romare Howard Bearden
American, 1911-1988

The Return of Odysseus (Homage to Pinturicchio and Benin), 1977

Collage comprised of cut-and-pasted papers, with graphite and touches of brush and black and gray wash, on wood panel
1,118 x 1,422 mm

Mary and Leigh Block Fund, 1977.127

This collage is one of series completed in 1977 depicting scenes from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Romare Bearden’s composition mimics the Italian painter Bernardino Pintoricchio’s early-16th-century painting of Odysseus returning home after the Trojan War. However, Bearden’s reinterpretation moves the scene to the West African country of Benin. By changing the ethnicity of the characters, Bearden made the story more accessible to minority audiences. He said of the series, “It is universal. So if a child in Benin or in Louisiana . . . sees my paintings of Odysseus, he can understand the myth better.”

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