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Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles (February 12 — April 27, 2014)
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Berkeley, CA, December 16, 2013 — 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 work. This exhibition brings together over twenty-five works by the artist, including six major sculptures. Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles is the first solo museum presentation of the artist’s work in over a decade.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Chase-Riboud moved to Paris in late 1960 where she garnered attention for her surrealistic figural sculptures and drawings. 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, she conceived the first of her groundbreaking Malcolm X steles in 1969. This important series of abstract sculptures combine cast bronze with knotted and braided silk and wool. These imposing, over life-size works named in honor of the slain civil rights leader combine various contradictory associations—bronze and silk; hard and soft; vertical and horizontal; mineral and organic, male and female; heavy and light, rigid and supple. In addition to a pair of the Malcolm X steles, the exhibition also includes related sculptures, such as Confessions for Myself (1972) from the BAM/PFA collection. BAM/PFA’s founding director Peter Selz commissioned the work in conjunction with a 1973 solo exhibition that introduced Chase-Riboud’s work on the West Coast.
Selections from the artist’s Le Lit (The Bed) series of drawings from 1966 will also be on view. These studies of texture, form, and metamorphosis depict 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 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 with delicate charcoal, graphite, and ink lines. The titles of these works refer to 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.
Chase-Riboud will travel to Berkeley to participate in a public conversation with BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder on Tuesday, February 11, 2014.
Memory and Material: A Conversation with Barbara Chase-Riboud
Tuesday, February 11, 2014; 6 p.m.
Barbara Chase-Riboud’s monumental abstract sculptures which combine bronze, braided cord, and fabric. Join Chase-Riboud and BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder as they discuss, among other issues, her distinctive use of materials, and how her visual art practice aligns ideas of monument with memory.
About the Artist
Born in Philadelphia and educated at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and the Yale University School of Design and Architecture, Chase-Riboud has lived in Paris since late 1960. She is an internationally acclaimed visual artist whose widely exhibited work has been seen in solo exhibitions at the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and in major arts festivals, including Documenta VI. Her towering public sculpture Africa Rising (1998) stands in the African Burial Ground National Monument in Lower Manhattan. Chase Riboud is also an award-winning poet and writer, known for her books of poetry From Memphis and Peking (1974) and Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra (1988) and the historical novels Sally Hemings (1979), Echo of Lions (1989), and Hottentot Venus (2003). In 1996, she was knighted as Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and coordinated at BAM/PFA by Lucinda Barnes, chief curator and director of programs and collections. The exhibition is generously supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Berkeley presentation is made possible in part by Charles and Naomie Kremer.
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 19,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 16,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
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