This work is not currently on view.
oil on canvas
- Dimensions (H x W x D)
25 1/4 in x 28 in
- Inscriptions & Markings
title: FAMILY PORTRAIT, verso
signature; date: Chessé '44, brushed, lower left in image
- Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary Art; Northwest Art
- Object Type
- Credit Line
Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Bequest of F. Harrison Taylor
- Accession Number
© Estate of Ralph Chessé
Ralph Chessé was an artist, actor, puppeteer, and musician. Born in New Orleans in 1900, he began painting at the age of 17 and later went on to take classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. He relocated to the Bay Area in the 1930s to work for the Federal Arts Project; first painting a mural for the Coit Tower in San Francisco; then later becoming Director of the Puppetry Unit of the Federal Theater project in Los Angeles. During the 1950s, he directed and made puppets for the Brother Buzz show.
Chessé experimented with a variety of styles from cubism to expressionism throughout his career. Much of his work prior to 1956 addresses African American themes or concerns. It was not until his death in Ashland, Oregon, that his family discovered from his birth certificate that Chessé himself was of African heritage and had spent much of his life passing for white to avoid the racism of America.