For more than 50 years, Stephen De Staebler (1933–2011) created figurative sculptures primarily from clay—a medium derived from the primordial earth. Drawing inspiration from fundamental childhood experiences with nature, a transformative adolescent encounter with mortality, and adult studies in the histories of art and religion, he explored and extended a tradition of human representation that includes the religious monuments of ancient Egypt, the Renaissance humanism of Michelangelo’s finished and unfinished figures, and the modern existentialism expressed in the works of Alberto Giacometti. Matter + Spirit, installed in the American art galleries, includes 55 of De Staebler’s works.
Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler has been organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Lead Sponsors are Lorna Meyer Calas and Dennis Calas. Sponsors are Dolby Chadwick Gallery, Beverly and Peter Lipman, Dorothy Saxe, and David and Roxanne Soward. Additional support has been provided by Lisa and Patrick Denzer. The catalogue is published with the assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment for Publications.