Skip to main content

Oral history interview of Ralph Chessé, 1964 October 22

Oral history interview of Ralph Chessé, 1964 October 22

Chessé, Ralph, 1900-1991

Muralist, Puppeteer

Collection Information

Size: Transcript: 28 pages

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 11 min.

Summary: An interview of Ralph Chessé conducted 1964 October 22, by Mary McChesney for the Archives of American Art.

Chessé speaks of his background and early interest in art; experimenting in puppetry; his first involvement with the WPA mural project; working on frescos for Coit Tower; technical aspects of the work; subject matter for frescos and how it was chosen; the importance of the Federal Art Project in that period in art history; political problems with the Federal Art Project; switching to the Federal Theater Project; some of the work he did for the Federal Theater Project; building and operating marionettes; his work in silkscreen; the WPA's value and contribution. He recalls Lucien Labaudt.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ralph Chessé (1900-1991) was a mural painter and puppeteer, in San Francisco, California.

Provenance

This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview of Ralph Chessé, 1964 October 22. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.