Works in the Collection
Ralph Chessé was born in 1900 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He began painting at a young age as a self-taught artist and later honed his skills while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduation, Chessé returned to New Orleans to work as a theater actor and stage assistant. He then relocated to San Francisco where he continued to work in theater helping to paint sets and design costumes. It was there that he met Blanding Sloan, an artist, and puppeteer who initiated Chessé into the world of puppetry. In 1936, Chessé was appointed Director of the puppetry unit for The Federal Theater in San Francisco. The very next year he was made State Director for California and moved his family to Los Angeles.
Throughout the next few decades, Chessé had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and the Caribbean, each visit sparking new series of paintings. He exhibited his work in a number of galleries including Lucien Labaudt Gallery in San Francisco, Duncan Gallery in New York and Paris, and Marc Antony Gallery in New Orleans. Chessé continued his extremely prolific career in theater, puppetry, and film, participating in a number of notable plays, films, and TV shows until his retirement in 1983. He relocated to Ashland, Oregon and continued to paint until his death in 1991.