Richmond Barthé American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 999

Barthé, a prominent figurative sculptor of primarily Black figures throughout the mid-twentieth century, produced Boxer from memory. While the sculpture’s title renders its subject anonymous, this work commemorates the physique and skill of Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo (1910–1988), the successful Cuban lightweight prizefighter whose pejorative nickname was "Kid Chocolate." Barthé, who recalled the boxer "moved like a ballet dancer," depicted Montalvo twisting and turning simultaneously in two directions while perched high on the balls of his feet. Thinned limbs and overall elongated proportions effectively convey, and even enhance, the implied agility of this athlete. Barthé alludes to his own identity as a gay man in the sensuous Boxer, using the nude male in motion as a conduit for self-expression during a time of circumspection.

Boxer, Richmond Barthé (American, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 1901–1989 Pasadena, California), Bronze

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