a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing
Like the content of Bearden's art, his methods and materials are complex and layered. Each object merits long periods of observation to discover its many facets. Throughout his more than forty-year career, Bearden successfully worked in a wide range of media, including oil and watercolor painting, edition prints, monotypes, and even one-known assemblage sculpture. However, the technique that made him famous was collage. From the start, Bearden employed collage in unique and innovative ways, and his techniques evolved over time. This section is a summary of Bearden's collage practice, his methods and materials.
Bearden was always concerned with the underlying geometry of his compositions. In 1968 he described his collage practice: "I first put down several rectangles of color some of which…are in the same ratio as…the rectangle that I'm working on. [Then] I paste a photograph, say, anything just to get me started, maybe a head, at certain—a few—places in the canvas…I try to move up and across the canvas, always moving up and across. If I tear anything, I tear it up and across. What I am trying to do then is establish a vertical and horizontal control of the canvas. I don't like to get into too many slanting movements...."
Over time Bearden's repertoire of collage materials expanded to include strips of wallpaper, posters, fabrics, foils, miscellaneous found materials, and paper he printed and painted himself. To some areas he added spray paint; he masked others to create crisp edges. In the 1970's Bearden began to enhance the surface texture and color by using abrasion, bleaching, and puddling techniques. Circular markings on works of the 1970's were possibly made with an electric eraser.