Romare Bearden. The Conjur Woman. 1964

Romare Bearden The Conjur Woman 1964

  • Not on view

Emerging from pieces of cut and torn found imagery, Bearden’s mysterious figure exists in both the past, particularly the rural southern life that many African Americans left behind as they moved to northern cities during the Great Migration (1916–70), and the present, as a frequent subject of his work in the 1960s and ’70s. Bearden’s collage technique, for which he is best known, was especially suited to capture this figure: his masterful combination of disparate images, drawn from a variety of sources to create a new being, mimics the transitional role of one who operated between worldly and spiritual planes. His conjur woman, a figure familiar from his own childhood and to many African Americans in general, is magical, both admired and feared for her supernatural abilities and mastery of natural elements; here she floats amid the plants that provide raw material for her medicines and spells. A raised black hand hovers over her shoulder, both a sign from another realm and a perch for a bird.

The year before he made The Conjur Woman, Bearden gathered a group of African American artists in his New York studio to talk about their role and responsibilities in a changing America. His depiction of this figure from black culture, an acknowledgment of her influence explored in a modern visual language, is a powerful example of his response to those discussions.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Cut-and-pasted printed paper and gouache on board
12 1/8 x 9 3/8" (30.6 x 23.7 cm)
Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund
Object number
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].