California Modernism, Abstraction
Media Oils, murals,
Artistic Focus Internationally
recognized as a sculptor and painter, Ralph Stackpole built a career that
spanned the period from the more romantic, idealized European art of the
late 1800s and early 1900s through the development of Modernism in America,
and into 20th Century Abstraction.
• Born in Oregon, Stackpole moved to San Francisco
at the age of 16, and while apprenticed to sculptor Arthur Putnam, he
began his art studies at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art.
• Following the 1906 earthquake, he traveled to Paris, where he
worked with Putnam and painter Gottardo Piazzoni in their studio and continued
• Returning to San Francisco in 1908, Stackpole immediately obtained
a number of sculpture assignments, beginning a long career creating sculptures
for parks and public spaces throughout Northern California.
• He championed the Renaissance-era “direct cut” method
of sculpture, preferring to carve in stone and other natural materials.
• In 1930, Stackpole created the monumental figures Mother Earth and Man and His Inventions in front of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange
in San Francisco.
• During the same year, he befriended Diego Rivera and was instrumental
in bringing the muralist to San Francisco.
• It was Rivera’s example that Stackpole emulated when painting
his Coit Tower fresco in 1934; rather than making a political statement
in his Industries of California mural, Stackpole used the art to honor
California’s workers and the industries in which they toiled.
• Stackpole created the famed Pacifica sculpture, the eighty-foot
symbol of the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-40, which was
held on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.
• For much of his career, Stackpole was a sculpture instructor at
both the San Francisco Art Institute and Mills College.
• In 1949, he moved to France, where he lived until his death.
Additional biographical material and full bibliographic
references are available upon request.
©2003- Spencer Jon Helfen Fine Arts. All
rights reserved. This website and the contents herein may not be copied
or reproduced without the prior written consent of Spencer Jon Helfen