Born: Jan. 28, 1901
Birthplace: Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Barthé showed great promise as an artist at a young age. As an African American, however, he was barred from entering art schools in New Orleans, near his home. In 1924, however, he gained admission to the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. Originally interested in painting, Barthé turned to sculpture in his senior year at the Institute. In 1929, Barthé moved to Harlem, and in 1934, he had his first solo show at the Caz Delbo Galleries in New York City. His representational sculptures, primarily of African Americans, were received with enormous critical success.
Some of his major public works included his Toussaint L’Ouverture Monument and General Dessalines Monument, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Green Pastures: Walls of Jericho for the Harlem River Housing Project, and a sculpture of Rose McClendon, the African American actress, for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House. His pieces are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, among others. After a period in New York, Barthé moved to Jamaica, then Europe, and returned to the U.S. in his final years, residing in California.Died: March 5, 1989