Back to Blog November 5, 2013

Tyler alumna Barbara Chase-Riboud has solo show at PMA

Author: Kelli Cavanaugh
Malcolm X stele by Chase-Riboud

Congratulations to Barbara Chase-Riboud, BFA’57, on her one person exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art featuring more than 40 works including her Malcolm X series of sculptures. On view at the PMA through January 20, 2014 it will travel to the Berkeley Art Museum in spring of 2014.

Philadelphia Museum of Art News Release:

For more than four decades, Barbara Chase-Riboud has integrated mediums and materials in uniquely expressive ways to create a remarkable body of literary and visual arts. This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the first comprehensive survey of her iconic Malcolm X steles. With related sculptures and drawings, the exhibition brings together more than forty works from the United States and Europe in the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in more than ten years.

Chase-Riboud’s sculptures dedicated to Malcolm X have been likened to contemporary interpretations of the steles erected in various parts of the ancient world to commemorate important people and events. Cast from cut and folded sheets of wax, the sculptures combine bronze, manipulated into undulating folds and crevices, with knotted and braided silk and wool fiber. This expressive melding of forms and materials is evident in the Museum’s own Malcolm X #3 (1969), which matches the golden hue of polished bronze with cascades of glossy silk thread—a combination that conveys a subtle tension and unity among opposites.

The artist developed the first four sculptures in this series in 1969, inspired by the civil rights movement and her political and personal experiences living in France and traveling to North Africa, China, and the Soviet Union. Chase-Riboud returned to the series in 2003 and again in 2007–8, creating a total of nine additional works. Reconciling vertical and horizontal, mineral and organic, light and dark, the artist has forged in the Malcolm X steles powerful beacons dedicated to the possibility of cultural integration. The exhibition also includes sculptures that share an affinity with the Malcolm X series, such as All That Rises Must Converge/Gold (1973) and Tantra #1 (1994).

Selections from the artist’s Le Lit (The Bed) series of drawings from 1966 will also be on view. Accomplished studies of texture, form, and metamorphosis, they depict recumbent figures that appear to emerge from the peaks and valleys of rumpled sheets. Out of the Le Lit series, Chase-Riboud developed exquisite charcoal landscapes of piled stones and meandering cords. This is seen in Landscape and Cords (c. 1973), which reveals how the artist’s drawing practice continued to parallel the development of her abstract sculptures.

In the Monument Drawings of 1996­­–97, Chase-Riboud reused an etching as the starting point for unique compositions that she enhanced and obscured by delicate charcoal, graphite, and ink lines. The titles of these works refer to idiosyncratic pairs of geographic locations and historical or literary figures, such as Alexander Pushkin, Man Ray, the Queen of Sheba, and the fictional Count of Monte Cristo. Signifying imagined memorials to people, places, and events, they encourage viewers to consider for themselves our reasons and means for commemorating the past.

The exhibition will travel to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in spring 2014.