Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Barthe in Mississippi

Sculptor Richmond Barthé was an odd sort. His neuroses often made him moody and solitary. His strange religiosity led him to believe he was the reincarnation of Michelangelo.
Yet the Bay St. Louis native was also a handsome and charismatic rover, adroit at charming others into picking up the tab when the bills arrived. It's a trait that served him well when, for example, he expatriated to Europe with hardly a penny to his name, explains scholar Margaret Rose Vendryes.
"He could talk himself out of anything," she said.
All was forgiven, it seems, because of the beautiful sculptures he produced. His works are noted for their naturalism and classical balance, as well as the frequent use of the male nude figure as subject matter.
Vendryes will lecture on Barthé in the presence of four of his works at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art.
The event marks the close of two related exhibits at the museum: The Last Years of Walter Anderson and the American Masters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast traveling exhibit, which, along with Barthé's sculptures, also featured the ceramics of George Ohr and paintings by Dusti Bongé and Walter Anderson.
Together, these four artists are considered pioneers of Southern modernism. Barthé, who was born in 1901 and flourished in the 1930s during the Harlem Renaissance, is today recognized as a groundbreaking black artist.

1 comment:

Ray Avito said...

He's certainly talented, and I do have a soft spot for the real eccentrics...