Barbara Chase-Riboud Breathes Life Into Bronze

Installation view of Barbara Chase-Riboud: Monumentale: The Bronzes at Pulitzer Arts Foundation (© Barbara Chase-Riboud. Photograph by Alise O’Brien Photography, © Pulitzer Arts Foundation and Alise O’Brien Photography)

ST. LOUIS — Sober and imposing, bronze has a way of making human achievement feel both unimpeachable and paralyzed in time. Before a bronze, we are apt to feel puny, breakable, shedding lashes and skin cells as our temples gray. To cast in bronze is to reconcile matter with mythos, to conjure the illusion of solidity within earthly experience.

But such is not always the case. Barbara Chase-Riboud: Monumentale: The Bronzes, on view at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation through February 5, foregrounds six decades of the American artist’s daring approach to our oldest alloy. Less monolithic than lithe and sinuous, Chase-Riboud’s large-scale sculptures balance lightness with depth, soft with hard. Wool, cotton, and silk fibers twist into metal, prompting the eye to reassess material differences within her undulating surfaces.

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