Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Purchases Romare Bearden's 'Three Folk Musicians'

Jan 22, 2017

The VMFA recently acquired this life-size collage, it will be part of the museum's permanent collections.

Virginia’s Museum of Fine Arts will soon be home to a new masterpiece, one that exemplifies African-American art. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.


When chief curator of the VMFA Michael Taylor first heard that Romare Bearden’s famous collage “Three Folk Musicians” came on the market, he says he got goosebumps.

“This isn’t just any Romare Bearden. I mean, it’s on the cover of Sharon Patton’s book 'African-American Art' which is the great survey of African-American art," Taylor says. "So this has long been considered one of the icons of African-American art.”

An icon that now belongs to Virginia's Museum of Fine Arts. The piece is a life-size collage of three black men playing instruments, a patchwork of color and sharp edges.


Taylor says the purchase was a long time coming, and the result of clear vision and persistence by curator Sarah Eckhardt.

“With our recent strategic initiative to increase our representation of African-American artists it quickly became clear that this would be one of our top goals: to add a work of Romare Bearden from the 1960’s," says Eckhardt.

The masterpiece will go on display at the end of the January, and stay up through black history month. It can’t always be on display though, for preservation purposes it has to frequently live in the dark. But when it is up, it will always be free to the public.