Bearden’s original career path was that of a professional baseball player.
He did well, playing for a number of minor league teams.
But he quickly realized, being black, there were too many obstacles in his way, preventing him from becoming a player in the major leagues.
He ended up in the American army. After a three-year stint (1942-1945) in Europe he returned to New York.
It was there that he began to dabble in painting, writing books and music.
Five years later, in 1950, he went to Paris, studying art history and philosophy at the Sorbonne University.
Upon his return to New York he became a serious painter.
His dazzling art was a virtual kaleidoscope of the black experience – celebrating the culture, encompassing the rural South, jazz and blues musicians, the urban experience of Harlem, the religious, mystical, magical lives of being black.