Romare Bearden (born Sept. 2, 1911, Charlotte, N.C., U.S. — died March 12, 1988, New York, N.Y.) was a U.S. painter who studied at the Art Students League with George Grosz and at Columbia University. After military service in World War II, he attended the Sorbonne and traveled in Europe. During this time he achieved recognition for his complex semiabstract collages of photographs and painted paper on canvas. The narrative structure of his work is clear; aspects of African American culture, including ritual, music, and family, were his predominant themes. By the 1960s Bearden was recognized as the preeminent collagist in the U.S. He is regarded as one of the most important African American artists of the 20th century.