Born in Charlotte, NC, Romare Bearden (1914-1988) spent his youth in Harlem, when jazz was coming into its own as an art form. The improvisation, rhythmic nature of jazz is visible in the his work—the barrage of sights, sounds, and movement that assaults the senses in a big city. For Bearden, collage was an ideal medium by which divergent bits of real life could be easily integrated into a single work of art.
In Sunset Express, there is a strong sense that life for the people in the scene—as symbolized by the train in the distance—is passing by without giving them an opportunity to address their own destinies. All they can hope for are the fragile revelations of the tea leaves as read by the fortune teller.
You can find Bearden’s work in the collections of notable museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC.