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Barbara Chase-Riboud (b.1939)

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Barbara Chase-Riboud (b.1939)
Bathers, 1969
aluminum and silk
11" x 120" x 80"

Untitled, 1973
charcoal and charcoal pencil on paper
29" x 20 1/2" / 73.7 x 52.1 cm
signed and dated

Marquis de Sade Monument, Charenton, 1997
charcoal, charcoal pencil, and ink with engraving and aquatint on paper
31 1/2" x 24", signed and dated

Monument to Sheba, c.1997
charcoal, charcoal pencil, and ink with engraving and aquatint on paper
31 1/2" x 23 3/4" / 80 x 60.3 cm

Pushkin, 1985
polished bronze and silk
78" x 26" x 15"

Isis, 1995
22 1/4" x 6" x 4 3/4"

La Musica Red #4, 2003
bronze with red patina and silk
30" x 15" x 32", signed

Monument to Man Ray's The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse Philadelphia, Penn. U.S.A., 1996
charcoal, charcoal pencil, and ink with engraving and aquatint on paper
31 1/2" x 23 3/4", signed and dated

Little Gold Flag, 2007
polished bronze and silk
70 1/4" x 35 1/4" x 21 3/4"

Tantra #4, 2007
polished bronze and silk
78 1/2" x 47 1/2" x 27 3/4"

Malcolm X #13, 2008
black bronze, silk, wool, linen, and synthetic fibers
86" x 36" x 25 1/2"


New & Noteworthy


Artist Information

I love silk, and it's one of the strongest materials in the world and lasts as long as the bronze.  So it's not a weak material vs. a strong material so the transformation that happens in the steles is not between two unequal things but two equal things that interact and transform each other."
—Barbara Chase-Riboud

Born in 1939 in Philadelphia, Barbara Chase-Riboud began taking art classes at the Philadelphia Art Museum at an early age. When she was in elementary school, her talent for poetry was so strong that a teacher accused her of plagiarizing a poem, “Autumn Leaves.” In response to the accusation, her mother, who had watched her compose the poem, pulled Chase-Riboud out of school, and had her tutored at home before enrolling her in the Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1948. Four years later, Chase-Riboud graduated from high school and began studying at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. The Museum of Modern Art purchased her woodcut Reba in 1955. The following year, she graduated from Temple, and in 1957, she won a John Hay Whitney Fellowship to study in Rome. She returned to the United States in September of 1958 with a fellowship to pursue her MFA at Yale. Soon after, she had a sculpture, Bull-Fighter, included in the 1958 Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture at the Carnegie Mellon Institute.

In 1960, the twenty-one-year-old artist completed her first commissioned public work, the Wheaton Plaza Fountain, in Maryland (destroyed) and received her MFA from Yale. In the mid-1960s, Chase-Riboud moved to Europe, settling in France. She would make Europe her permanent home, dividing her time between France and Italy. She began creating thin sheets of wax that she could bend, fold, meld, or sever in order to create unique models, which she would then bring to a local foundry for casting. This new approach to the lost-wax casting process enabled her to produce large-scale sculptures comprised of ribbons of bronze and aluminum. In 1969, she added fiber to these metal elements, devising the seemingly paradoxical works for which she became famous—tall, sturdy sculptures of cast metal resting on supports hidden by

cascading skeins of silk or wool so that the fibers seem to support the metal. Of these works were a group of steles memorializing Malcolm X and his transformation “from a convict to a world leader.” Known collectively as the Malcolm X Steles, these works were recently exhibited to acclaim at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Berkeley Art Museum (University of California Berkeley). In 2007, Chase-Riboud returned to the subject of Malcolm X, producing another series of tall metal-and-fiber sculptures that bore his name. Several of these works will be on view as part of the exhibition at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

By the 1970s, Barbara Chase-Riboud was celebrated for her sculpture and well known to Europeans as a gifted visual artist. However, despite the fact that her work was exhibited at prominent modern art museums on the East and West Coasts in the 1970s, she was better known for her literary talents in the United States. In 1974, Chase-Riboud published her first book of poetry. Five years later, her first novel, Sally Hemings (Viking Press, 1979), won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize in for Best Novel by an American Woman. The book, about the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, became an international bestseller. Its sequel, The President’s Daughter, was published by Ballentine Books in 1994. Other literary works include Echo of Lions (1989, William Morrow), about the Amistad revolt, and Hottentot Venus (Doubleday, 2003), about Sarah Baartman. This year, Barbara Chase-Riboud’s papers and manuscripts will join those of other celebrated authors at Emory University’s Manuscript and Rare Book Library. The acquisition will be announced at The Callaloo Conference, where Chase-Riboud will also be the closing keynote speaker.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery proudly announced representation of Barbara Chase-Riboud in 2014.


Berkeley Museum & Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley, CA
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington, NC
Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Howard University, Washington, DC
La Salle University Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA
Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NM
The Library of Congress, Washington, DC
MARBL Emory University, Druid Hills, GA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National College Board Association, New York, NY
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
New Orleans Museum, New Orleans, LA
New York Historical Society, New York, NY
Pasadena College, Pasadena, CA
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Board of Education, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Schoenburg Collection, New York Public Library, New York, NY
Scribbs College, Los Angeles, CA
Smithsonian African American Museum, Washington, DC
St. John’s University, New York, NY
The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
United States General Services Administration, Washington, DC
University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Wilfredo Lam Contemporary Art Center, Havana, Cuba


Galleria l’Obelisco, Rome, Italy
American Academy, Rome, Italy
Festival of Two Worlds, Spoleto, Italy

Galerie Cadran Solaire, Paris, France

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hayden Gallery, Cambridge, MA

Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, NY

Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY

Berkeley University Museum, Berkeley, CA
Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, New York, NY
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Indianapolis Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Staatliche Kunstalle, Baden Baden, Germany
Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, Germany
Merian Gallery, Krefeld, Germany

Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY
United States Cultural Center, Tunis, Tunisia
United States Cultural Center, Bamako, Mali
United States Cultural Center, Freetown, Sierra Leone
United States Cultural Center, Accra, Ghana
United States Cultural Center, Dakar, Senegal
Musée d’Art Contemporain, Teheran, Iran

Kunstverein, Freiburg, Germany
Musée Reattu, Arles, France

Documenta VI, Kassel, Germany

Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY

Sergio Tosi Stampatore Gallery, New York, NY

Pasadena College Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Pasadena, CA

Espace Kiron, Paris, France

Ken Keleba Gallery, New York, NY

Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Diggs Gallery, Winston-Salem, NC
Bianca Pilat Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Monument Drawings, St. John’s Museum of Art, Wilmington, NC

Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Monument Drawings, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Achim Moeller Gallery, New York, NY

Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Monument Drawings, African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD

Walter Gomez Gallery, Baltimore, MD

G.R. N’Nambi Gallery, Detroit, MI
G.R. N’Nambi Gallery, Chicago, IL

Chase-Riboud, Galleria Giulia, Rome, Italy

Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA

Barbara Chase-Riboud: One Million Kilometers of Silk, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY


Scholastic Art Awards, ACA Gallery, New York, NY

International Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture Biennale, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

National Painting and Drawing Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Salon de Mai, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

The New York Architectural League Selection, Commercial Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Premier Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, 10 Artists des États-Unis, Dakar, Senegal

7 Américains de Paris, Galerie Air France, New York, NY

L’Oeil Écoute, Musée Réatta, Festival of Avignon, Avignon, France

Afro-American Artists New York/Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Salon des Nouvelles Réalities, Galeries Nationales d’Exposition du Grand Palais, Paris, France
Two Generations, Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ
Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France
Contemporary Jewelry, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Contemporary Black Artists in America, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Jewelry as Sculpture as Jewelry, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Jewelry as Sculpture as Jewelry, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
Gold, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Toronto Gallery of Art, Toronto, Canada
Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

The Royal Ontario Art Museum, Montreal, Canada

Masterworks of the Seventies, Albright Knox Gallery, New York, NY
Woman’s Work - American Art ’74, Museum of the Civic Center, Philadelphia, PA

Merian Gallery Group Show, Cologne Art Fair, Germany

The Sydney Biennial, Sydney, Australia

The Object as Poet, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; American Craft Museum, New York, NY
Les Mains Regardant, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
European Drawings, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada

European Drawings, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Another Generation, The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY

European Drawings, The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Group Show, Miroir d’Encre, Brussels, Belgium
African-American Abstraction, P.S. 1, Long Island City, Queens, NY

African-American Abstraction, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Forever Free, Center of Visual Arts Gallery, Normal, Illinois; Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, AL

African-American Abstraction, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN

Noeuds et Ligatures, F.N.A.P. Rothschild Museum, Paris, France

East/West Contemporary American Art, California Afro-American Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Paris Connections, Bomini Gallery, San Francisco, CA

The Second Fujisankei Biennale: International Exhibition for Contemporary Sculpture, Hakone, Japan
The Listening Sky, The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY

Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox, African American Historical and Cultural Museum, Philadelphia, PA; The Equitable Gallery, New York, NY
Explorations in the City of Light: African-American Artists in Paris, 1915-1965, The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
Bearing Witness: Contemporary African American Women Artists, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; Tuskegee University Art Gallery, Tuskegee, AL

Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox, California African-American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA
Explorations in the City of Light: African-American Artists in Paris, 1915-1965, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Bearing Witness: Contemporary African American Women Artists, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; St. Paul Museum, St. Paul, MN

Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Bearing Witness: Contemporary African American Women Artists, Museum of African-American Culture, Fort Worth, TX

Bearing Witness: Contemporary African American Women Artists, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Design Awards, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC

New Acquisitions, Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Cleopatra from History to Myth, The British Museum, London, UK

Abstraction, Energy Experimentation, The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY
Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery, The New York Historical Society, New York, NY 

[un]common threads, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

The Annual, The National Academy of Arts, New York, NY
Art Festival of Two Worlds, Dakar, Senegal

Witness:  Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Inaugural Exhibit of the Pennsylvania Arts, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
Nero su Bianco, American Academy in Rome, Italy, curated by Robert Storr
We Speak: Black Artists in Philadelphia, 1920s-1970s, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Circa 1970, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

Third Space: Shifting Conversations about Contemporary Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 , Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Magnetic Fields: Conversations in Abstraction by Black Women Artists 1960-Present, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
Approaching Abstraction: African American Art from the Permanent Collection, La Salle University Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA


In 1996 and 1997, Barbara Chase- Riboud executed an ambitious series of twenty-four works on paper that comprise The Monument Drawings. Each image combines a variety of techniques and media:  charcoal, charcoal pencil, and ink with engraving and aquatint on paper and each measure approximately 31 ½ x 24 inches.

The series was conceived by Barbara Chase-Riboud as hypothetical, large-scale public monuments that serve as homages to various political, cultural, and artistic figures and forces.  The suite constitutes the first major body of Chase-Riboud’s graphic work to be shown in the United States in more than two decades.

Elements of Chase- Riboud’s signature work -- classicism, archaeology, European Baroque, and poetic narrative -- converge in The Monument Drawings, weaving together a wide range of ideas, interests, and motifs to form a complex unity. In nearly all of the drawings in this series the artist also incorporates a mysterious, illegible script that alludes to her poetry but dispenses with specific meaning or content.[1]

About this significant body of work, Chase-Riboud describes, “For many years I kept a great divide between my writing and my graphic work and sculpture as I felt it was very dangerous to confuse, merge, or combine two professions and expect to be taken seriously. It was Anthony F. Janson, author of Janson’s History of Art, who insisted that there was, had to be, a profound connection between the drawings and the poetry. He decided to mount an exhibition in 1998 to prove it, called Monument Drawings. Initially, this series had been combined with earlier drawings, but in the end I made twenty-four drawings in charcoal pencil especially for the exhibition. I etched onto the drawing paper an independent element of stone legated by silk cords, which was integrated into each of these drawings and served as a leit-motif. Drawing for me by this time had become the same as and of parallel importance to the writing of poetry, and I had already published two volumes of poems, one of which, Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra, had won the Carl Sandburg Award for best American poet.

In this series of drawing, which begin with an engraved element that remains the same in every drawing, gathering them together under one dark and mysterious banner, the stone cord object that hovers or is buried within the drawing becomes the central agent of the ensemble, visible but hidden, active but secret. Is this black stone legated in silk related to the person whose monument this is, or is it completely alien, from another country or epoch?”[2]

Having been credited by Chase-Riboud for mounting the first exhibition to exclusively feature the Monument Drawings, Anthony F. Janson has been a long-time supporter of the artist and this particular series. Janson expresses, “Barbara Chase-Riboud’s drawings have been exhibited to critical acclaim in the United States, Europe, and Canada, and are represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Yet The Monument Drawings occupy a unique place in Chase-Riboud’s oeuvre. They are aptly named: not only are they of unprecedented size for this artist, but they have a bold presence and vigorous execution surpassing anything she has done previously in this vein. The Monument Drawings bear an intimate relationship to the sculpture and writing on which Chase-Riboud’s reputation rests. While consistent with the new direction her recent work has taken, they must be understood in the context of her career as a whole, for they are the outgrowth of more than thirty years’ experience as an international artist.”[3]

[1] Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY , Press Release on the occasion of the exhibition Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Monument Drawings, June 22 – September 5, 1999

[2] Basualdo, Carlos, ed., Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles, Philadelphia Museum of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013) pp. 89-90

[3] Selz, Peter and Anthony F. Janson, Barbara Chase-Riboud: Sculptor, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999), p. 87



Papers of artist/writer Barbara Chase-Riboud acquired by Emory

The papers of Barbara Chase-Riboud, a sculptor, printmaker, novelist and poet, have been acquired by the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) at Emory University. The collection, open to researchers, joins a growing archive at MARBL dedicated to art, art history and literature.

Chase-Riboud will be at Emory on Saturday, Oct. 18, as part of the 2014 Callaloo conference hosted by Emory's Creative Writing Program. Her presentation, "The Making of Art," takes place at 2 p.m. in room E208 in the university's Math and Science Center. All conference sessions are free and open to the public.

She has authored a newly-published poetry collection, "Everytime a Knot is Undone, a God is Released" (Seven Stories Press), which will be for sale following the event.

"The multidimensional elements of her art – from sculpture to poetry to fiction – connect beautifully across the rich array of our collections," says Rosemary Magee, director of MARBL. "Ms. Chase-Riboud's papers strengthen our expanding research and instructional materials in literature and art history."

About Chase-Riboud

Born in Philadelphia in 1939, Barbara Chase began her formal training in art when she was seven years old; by age 15, one of her pieces had been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. She holds fine arts degrees from Temple University, where she studied at the Tyler School of Art, and Yale University, and she studied at the American Academy in Rome on a John Hay Whitney Fellowship. During her time abroad, she also visited Egypt and discovered non-Western art.

Since 1961, she has made her home outside the United States, although she returns frequently to conduct research and exhibit her work. In 1961, she moved to Paris and married French photographer Marc Riboud. Her work, which has been exhibited extensively in the U.S., France, and elsewhere internationally, is perhaps best known for its combination of contradictory materials and elements – bronze and silk, lightness and weight, organic and man-made.

In 1979, Chase-Riboud published her first novel, "Sally Hemings," a work of historical fiction based on the complex relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Hemings, his slave, with whom he had several children. Her novels have received various awards, including the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and have been listed on bestseller lists throughout the world. She has also published several volumes of poetry, including "Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra," which won the Carl Sandburg Award for Poetry in 1988.

A longtime resident of France, Chase-Riboud has published in both English and French, and she has exhibited her sculptural work in some of Paris' most prestigious museums and galleries. In 1996, Chase-Riboud was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, one of the highest cultural awards granted by the French government. She currently divides her time between Paris, where she resides with her second husband, Sergio Tosi, and Rome, where she maintains a sculpture studio.

About the archive

Chase-Riboud's papers, ranging from manuscripts and audiovisual material to photographs and letters, cover the span of her life, from 1939 to today. The majority of the collection is research for and drafts of her novels and poetry volumes, as well as drafts of several unpublished works. Drawings and preparatory material for her sculptures are also included.

The Chase-Riboud collection joins MARBL's continually growing and globally-oriented archive of material relating to visual and literary culture. Randall K. Burkett, MARBL curator of African American Collections, noted that Chase-Riboud was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres on the same day the honor was bestowed on Seamus Heaney, whose collection is also represented in MARBL.

"It is a privilege," Burkett says, "to have Chase-Riboud's papers join those of Heaney, of Salman Rushdie, Alice Walker and other figures of international accomplishment and acclaim."