I could have put this in the “Teaching the Odyssey” post, but this delightful discovery (new to me!) warrants its own space. From reading Sophocles, I jumped to August Wilson these past couple days. From there I ran into his “four B’s” of inspiration: Jorge Luis Borges, Romare Bearden, Amiri Baraka, and the blues (apparently he later added James Baldwin and Ed Bullins). Then, investigating the work of Romare Bearden, a black American artist and writer, known especially for his collage work and engagement with themes dealing with African American culture and equal rights, I became aware of his series of work on Homer’s Odyssey.
I would first and foremost recommend the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s great multimedia Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey exhibit containing works from Bearden’s Odyssey series as well as works inspired by The Illiad and depicting the Fall of Troy. The site features The National Gallery of Art offers a mini-lesson comparing Bearden’s The Return of Odysseus ( (1977), depicting Odysseus’ arrival at his palace disguised as an old man, with Pintoricchio’s Penelope with the Suitors (1509). Here are some additional question possibilities concerning Bearden’s painting and the Art Institute of Chicago’s introduction to the painting.
At DC Moore Gallery features a large thumbnail slideshow of the other mostly papered collage pieces from the series featuring other scenes from The Odyssey: Circe’s Domain, Realm of the Shades, Odysseus Leaves Nausicaa, Battle with Cicones, Circe Turns a Companion of Odysseus into a Swine, and Scylla and Charybdis.