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Facing History (Barbara Chase-Riboud)

Review relating to an exhibition, 2014
Published by: Art in America
Year published: 2014
Number of pages: 6

image of Facing History (Barbara Chase-Riboud)

Substantial six-page review of Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles, exhibition at Philadelphia Museum of Art, September 14 2013 - January 20 2014, then Berkeley Art Museum, February 12, 2014 - April 27, 2014. The review appeared in Art in America, March 2014, pages 122 - 127. On the contents page of the issue, Facing History (written by Judith E. Stein) was trailed as “Juxtaposing disparate materials, Barbara Chase-Riboud’s abstract “Malcolm X” sculptures recall - and seek to transcend - the often bloody struggles of the Civil Rights era.” This was a significant and far-reaching appraisal of an intriguing artist.

The review began with a brief biographical sketch that situated Chase-Riboud: The 1960s were barely slipping into history when the African-American sculptor Barbara Chase-Riboud made her New York solo debut at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery on East 57th Street in 1970. A Philadelphian trained at her city’s Tyler School of Art (1956) and at Yale University (1960), Chase-Riboud had been living in France during the tumultuous ‘60s, disengaged from the Pop ironies and Minimalist concerns of her contemporaries. She had raised a family  and traveled internationally with photographer Marc Riboud, her husband at the time. In the course of those 10 years, she stepped away from the figure toward an expressive vocabulary of crimps and crevices. A two-stage breakthrough led to what would become her signature style.”

This was a significant and important review, which stands as a particularly engaging and expansive reflection on the artist. Towards the end of the piece, Stein noted, “The Newark Museum preciently purchased Malcolm X #2 in 1971; and in 2001 the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s late director Anne d’Harnoncourt acquired Malcolm X #3 for her institution. In 2003, after a gap of 34 years, Chase-Riboud began to add to the “Malcolm” series, today numbering 13 pieces. She now refers to them as “Malcolm steles (with the X silent),” the better to align them with ancient commemorative tablets and to reach for a universal significance, beyond the particular reference to one inspirational civil rights leader.”

Related people

»  Barbara Chase-Riboud

Born, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA