Little Moments Where Knowledge Meets Art
“All my life I have been interested in trying to capture the spiritual quality I see and feel in people, and I feel that the human figure as God made it, is the best means of expressing this spirit in man.”
These compelling words, captured in Russell Adams’ 1976 work, Great Negroes: Past and Present, belong to Harlem Renaissance sculptor Richmond Barthé. For Barthé, whose career spanned a half-century, art was a spiritual and intimate process that went far beyond the superficial look of a finished piece. The talented sculptor fully promoted and believed that if an artist considered how an object felt rather than how it looked, that artist’s hands could create a sculpture with little interference from his conscious mind.
As a child reared on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Barthé turned to art as a means of coping with the numerous illnesses he suffered while coming of age. By his teenage years, his artistic talents were obvious and some of those who took notice of his drawings rallied to fund his admission to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the few art schools accepting Black students. There, Barthé took classes with fellow artist, Ellis Wilson, while receiving private instruction from prominent teachers like Archibald Motley, Jr. and others.
While a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, Barthé debuted as a professional sculptor at The Negro in Art Week exhibition in 1927. Upon graduating, he left for New York where he opened a studio in Harlem and soon established a reputation for himself amidst the “New Negro Movement” and among such artists and scholars as Alain Locke and Langston Hughes. As Barthé immersed himself in the cultural dynamics of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke and Hughes both supported and promoted his extraordinary work.
Given this support and his rapidly growing reputation—and despite struggling, like most, to make ends meet through the Depression—Barthé became one of the first African-American visual artists to develop a commercial career in New York. Although adamant about capturing subjects of all races, he was best known in the 1930s and 1940s for sculpting Black allegorical and genre figures incorporating his Christian faith and his love for theater, dance, and African lore.
In the late 1940s, while at the pinnacle of his career, Barthé relocated to Jamaica where his art continued to flourish for two decades. During his lengthy career, he received numerous recognitions and awards for his art including numerous Rosenwald and Guggenheim fellowships.
Around 1970, Barthé travelled to Europe where he lived in Switzerland, Spain, and Italy before returning to the United States in 1977, broke and ill. Upon settling in Pasadena, California, Barthé became close friends with actor James Garner, star of the popular TV series, The Rockford Files. Before Barthé’s 1989 death, Garner supported the artist financially, helped him with legal issues, and ultimately established the Richmond Barthé Trust.
BAIA BITS are produced in part by the generous support of our Patreon members with a special shout out to Zadig & Voltaire.
START COLLECTING ART
Sign up page for our free virtual collectors course — Here
Stephanie Robinson, Esq. is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a national media figure, author, former Chief Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and former President and CEO of The Jamestown Project, a national think tank focusing on democracy. Ms. Robinson hosted her own national radio show, Roundtable with Stephanie Robinson, a popular weekly 30-minute, talk-radio program focused on culture, politics, and relationships that aired on TSN. For over half a decade, Ms. Robinson was Political and Social Commentator for the Tom Joyner Morning Show where she spoke to between 9 and 10 million people weekly, offering her perspective on the day’s most pressing social and political issues.
Robinson is co-author of Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise, (Atria Books, 2009). She is a nationally recognized expert on issues relating to social policy, women, race, family, and electoral politics. She was featured as one of the 30 Young Leaders of the Future in Ebony Magazine and was profiled in the book As I Am: Young African American Women in a Critical Age, by Julian Okwu. Robinson is a frequent speaker expressing her views in countless media outlets including the Associated Press, The Washington Post, C-Span, Fox News, NewsOne and NPR.
Stephanie was a Member of President Clinton’s first Mission to Africa regarding children orphaned by AIDS. Robinson, a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland and the Harvard Law School, is a native of Steubenville, Ohio. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
Would you buy stock in BAIA if you could? Well we invite you to join us in becoming a monthly supporter, starting at just $3 a month YOU become a stakeholder and begin to help us transform lives through art. We are growing the BAIA team and will use your contributions to hire more team members for the purpose of creating more educational and marketing resources for schools and universities about african american artists both past and present. Such art initiatives and educational programming like Blacklite with Steve Prince, Relating to Art with Dr. Kelli Morgan, and BAIA BITS would not be possible without the ongoing support of our Patreon members. Please consider becoming a monthly Patreon member today!
Review our list of rewards for becoming a BAIA Patreon / patron supporter. Your monthly contribution has lasting benefits. — “What will your legacy be” – Dr. Margaret Burroughs
Thank you new and recurring monthly Patrons
Deloris and Eddie Young, Esther Silver-Parker, Eugene Foney, Zadig & Voltaire, Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, John and Melanie Guess, Frank Frazier, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Leslie Fields, Jim Nixon, Dr. Michael Butler, Mary “Madea” Jones, Patrick Stewart, Noreen Winningham, Reg Pugh, Kevin Smokler, Deborah R. Moore, Dr. Skyller Walkes, Jae M, Jocelyne Lamour, Marion Zweig, Shannon DeVaney, Ashlee Jacob, DaNia Childress, Rev. Anita Marshall, Mary Ali-Masai, Devera Redmond, Roslyn Valentine, Robin King, Brenda Larnell, Michael, Jeffery Washington, Tricia Konan, Debra L Lacy CHARLES BIBBS, Fredric Isler, Silvia Peters, Harold Moore, Shurvon Haynes K.Coleman Shannon Dale Davis Terese L Hawkins M. Rasheed Jamal Love Annette, Mason Archie, Manuelita Brown, Carolyn L. Mazloomi Gale Ross KL Martin michael jacobs Virginia Joy Simmons Christ Van Loan Sr. Cecilia Winters-Morris, Rosie Gordon-Wallace, Pearlie Taylor, Danny Jenkins, Sara, Lloyd Goode, Marina Kovic, Sarah Rooney, Mitchell Shohet, Nicole Farley, Cheryl B Blankman, Jocelyn Greene, Laura Di Piazza Petrina Burkard Hannah Diener Sarah Drury Claire Sig Mina Silva Whitney, Sara Friesen, Megan LaCroix, Kellyn Maguire, Sophia Bellin,o Cory Huff, Wilhelmina Barker, Linda Eaddy, Shelley Danzy, Rosalyn D. Elder, Sonia Spencer Karen Pinzolo Desiree Dansan, Deborah Paige-Jackson, ALKEBU LAN IMAGES Bookstore DeLores M Dyer, Shelia, Harry F Banks, Susan Ross, Dr. Diane R. Miles, Carlton Cotton, Andre Mitchell, Joan L. Ward, JOCELYN BENITA SMITH, Paul Robinson, Janice Orr, Patricia D Dungy, Ethnie Weekes, Shawn Rhea, Duke Windsor, Runez M Bender, Karen Y House, M Belinda Tucker, Dr. Yonette Thomas, Diana Shannon Young, Judith Hamilton, Julia Turner Lowe, Francene Greene, Caryliss R. Weaver, Sharmon Jane Hilfinger, Bill and Deborah Nix, joyce a, Wanda Baker-Smith, Timothy Gandley, Anneke Schwob, Emily M, Rachael horner, Morris Howard, Marie L Johnson, Ayoka Chenzira, Jean Gumpper, Caitlin Charles, Becca H,. Dr. Darlene White, Dr. Sandra Boyce Broomes, Michele C. Mayes, Rita Crittenden, Reginald Laurent, Jea Delsarte, Brenda Brooks, Suzette Renwick, BEVERLY GRANT, Linda B. Smith, Judith Bergeron, Emily Hegeman Cavanagh, Teri L Lewis, Cooky Goldblatt, Danni Cerezo, Hollis Turner, cdixon06, Freda Davis, Sarah Caputo, jacki rust, Curtis Morrow, Christina Levine, Jessica Beckstrom, Kim Walker, Pamela Hart, Ted Ellis, Louise berner-holmberg, Carla Sonheim, Nicole Bruce, Alison Deas, Monikapi, Ashley Littlefield, Reginald Browne Bill Cook, SylviaWong Lewis, DONNA PAXTON, Kanika Marshall, Cheyenne, Nancy Maignan, Kimberly Smith, Tracy Russ, Gwen Meharg, K Joy Peters, johnnie mae maberry, Lester Marks, Zishan Evans, Anne king, Dianna A. Harris, Arbrie Griffin Bradley, Sandra Sautner, Barbara Brown, Bronwen Hodgkinson, Sonia Deane, January Hoskin, Quinton Foreman, Key Mosley, Jim Alexander, Terri Pease, Annette Groschke, Richard MacMillan, D T Ray, Camille, Elayne Gross, Ann Tankersley, Samori Augusto, Karen M Hirsch, Jeanne H Chaney, Jacqueline Konan, Jerome Moore, Patricia Andrews-Keenan, India Still, Luna Cascade, Amy Peck, Marnese Barksdale, Elder Bridgette, René McCullough, Kevin and Tracy Burton, Raven Burnes, Kim Dubois, Edwina King Diva E, Charlotte Bender, Phyllis Stephens, Alisa R Elliot, Ebony English, Otto Neals, Michael Nix, Terri Bowles, Nelly Maynard, Leslie Smith, Bernard W. Kinsey, Toby Sisson, Raynard Hall, Milton Loupe, Wren Mckinley, Arturo Lindsay, Lindiwe Stovall Lester, Phil, Ricki Carroll, Sherman E Jackson Jr, Janine P Rouson, Raynard Hall, Vickie Townsend-Carter, Peter Prinz, PB Fine Art Appraisal, Alison Woods, Suzette Davis, Carlton Cotton, Art Now After Hours, Diane E Leifheit, Tamara clements, lisa tomlinson, vince leal, Deborah BarnwellGarr, Sonia Pollard, Barbara Hayes, Loretta Y Blakely, Gregg Y, Paige Jernigan, Randy McAnulty, raven walthor, Will Johnson, jack, Shameika Ingram, Trina Virginia Brooks, Black Wall Street Gallery, Suzanne Roberts, Faye Edwards, Tara, Crystal Green, Sedonia Phillips Kniskern, R Simpson, Kate Gadd, Judy Nyquist, Velma McLaurin-Bell, Frazier and Myra O’Leary, Rosemarie Rogers, Elaine Buchsbaum, Hope Elliott, Renee Williams Jefferson, and Atiya Slaughter, Stephanie Stephens, Takisia Whites, Robert Taylor, Christina, Taylor Jackson, Brenda Joyner, Dr. Karen Patricia Williams, Paul Daniel Curtis, Zawadi, DJIBRIL N’DOYE, Monique Johnson, Christine J Vincent, Paige Jernigan, Willa Bandler, Valerie A. Cooper, Cordell Boyd, DARRIS L SHAW, Shurvon Haynes, S J, Cynthia Hargrove, THERESA PATTERSON, Kree8tive DJ, and LaShanda Chirunga
We Appreciate your Patronage