Richmond Barthe is recognized as one of the foremost sculptors of his generation. He was born on January 28, 1901, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. In 1924, with less than a high school education and no formal training in art, he was admitted to the Art Institute of Chicago. During this time, he pursued a career in painting, until in his fourth year, Barthe began modeling in clay, to gain a better understanding of the third dimension in his painting. This transition proved to be a turning point in his career.
Barthe moved to New York and established his first studio in Harlem. During the next two decades, he built his reputation as a sculptor. Under the influence of the tense environment and violence of the city he decided to move to Jamaica, West Indies, where he remained there until the mid-1960's. The ever-growing violence forced yet another move. For the next five years he lived in Switzerland, Spain, and Italy before eventually settling in Pasadena, California, where he worked on his memoirs and most importantly, editioned many of his works with the financial assistance of the actor, James Garner, until his death in 1989.
Richmond Barthe received many honors during his career, including the Rosenwald Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and the National Academy of Arts and Letters. His work is also in public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, New York, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, and The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois.