Romare Bearden’s Blue Rain, Mecklenburg, 1987.

Among the founders of the Studio Museum in Harlem was the artist Romare Bearden. Born in North Carolina in 1911, the painter and printmaker parlayed the African underpinnings of Cubist collage into new ways of conveying the African-American experience. For the museum’s centenary tribute, however, director Thelma Golden and assistant curator Lauren Haynes will go beyond its own substantial collection of the artist’s work: In “The Bearden Project” (November 10, 2011–March 11, 2012), more than 40 contemporary artists—among them, Mark Bradford, Kori Newkirk, Alison Saar, Nari Ward, and Glenn Ligon—will respond to Bearden’s legacy with individual works. “I’m not a big one for color,” says Ligon, “but Bearden was brilliant with it, so this time there is some color. He’s given me permission to go in directions I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of.”

Photo: Copyright Romare Beardon Foundation, courtesy of Studio Museum in Harlem, New York