The Boxer

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Richmond Barthé
American, 1901-1989

The Boxer, 1942

Bronze
47.6 x 30.9 x 17.6 cm (18 3/4 x 12 1/8 x 6 7/8 in.) (with base)
Signed on base at rear behind proper right foot: BARTHÉ
Simeon B. Williams Fund, 1948.79

An African American sculptor who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Richmond Barthé created compelling works that emphasize the expressive potential of the body’s physiognomy, pose, and movement. Barthé modeled The Boxer from memory, inspired by the famed Cuban featherweight “Kid Chocolate” of the 1930s. The muscular, yet lean and attenuated figure rests lightly on the balls of his feet, with his head tucked down and arm raised. The artist later recalled that the boxer “moved like a ballet dancer,” and this sculpture conveys the immense strength and surprising delicacy of that movement with lyricism and grace.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, International Print Society, Sculpture by Richmond Barthé, Mar. 26-Apr. 14, 1945, cat. 8.

Los Angeles, Landau/Travelling Exhibitions, Two Sculptors, Two Eras: Richmond Barthé, Richard Hunt, no cat., p. 3; traveled to Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, June 16–Aug. 9, 1992; Washington, DC, Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Museum, Dec. 20, 1992–Feb. 28, 1993, Hampton, Virginia, Hampton University Museum, Apr. 1–May 14, 1993, Chattanooga, Tenn., Hunter Museum of Art, Dec. 5, 1993–Jan. 30, 1994, Dallas, African American Museum, Feb. 15–Apr. 15, 1994, Lubbock, Museum of Texas Tech, c. May 1-Aug. 14, 1994, New Orleans Museum of Art, Sept. 1–Oct. 31, 1994, Odessa, Art Institute of the Permian Basin, no dates, Columbus, Ohio, King Arts Complex, no dates, Monroe, Louisiana, Masur Museum of Art, c. Jan. 1–c. Feb. 28, 1995.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Collecting: African American Art in the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 15-May 18, 2003, no cat.

Publication History

Margaret Rose Vendryes, Expression and Repression of Identity: Race, Religion, and Sexuality in the Art of American Sculptor Richmond Barthé (Ph.D. Diss, Princeton University, 1997), pp. 379-87.

Susan F. Rossen et al., “African Americans in Art: Selections from the Art Institute of Chicago,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 24, 2 (1999), pp. 141, 184, 200–01, no. 11.

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 139.

Jordana Moore Saggese, "Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art," (University of California Press, 2014). (ill.).

Ownership History

Frank Breckenridge, Chicago, by 1948; The Art Institute of Chicago, 1948.