Stephen De Staebler at Machu Picchu 1995, photo Danae Mattes

Stephen De Staebler

January 24, 2016

Stephen De Staebler was an American sculptor born in St. Louis in 1933. His work, mostly done in bronze and clay, is recognized and famous throughout the world.

He attended Black Mountain College, NC, in 1951, studied Religion at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, in 1954, received his General Secondary Teaching Credential from University of California, Berkeley, CA, in 1959, and has studied Art at University of California, Berkeley, CA in 1961. He taught at Chadwick School, Rolling Hills, CA, at San Francisco State College, San Francisco, CA, at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, before coming to San Francisco State University, where he worked for almost thirty years, from 1967 until 1995. Not only a great sculptor himself, De Staebler inspired generations of young artists who had the privilege of studying under him.

Clay Sculptures by Stephen De Staebler

Stephen De Staebler - Segmented Figure Column III, 2008 - Figure with Sharp Wing, 2010 - Figure with Sandstone Head, 2010
Stephen De Staebler - Segmented Figure Column III, 2008 / Figure with Sharp Wing, 2010 / Figure with Sandstone Head, 2010

Stephen De Staebler - Figure with Black Wing, 2008 - Seated Figure with Raised Foot, 2008 - Figure with Pink Knee, 2008
Stephen De Staebler - Figure with Black Wing, 2008 / Seated Figure with Raised Foot, 2008 / Figure with Pink Knee, 2008

He wanted to be a serious artist, but didn’t quite find his field until one semester at Berkely, when he took a ceramics course with Peter Voulkos. He became a great source of inspiration for De Staebler, and the artist always emphasized how much he is grateful to Voulkos. In the beginning, he worked with clay, but began experimenting with bronze in the 70’s. The bronze provides greater freedom and gives sculptures a way to stand on their own form. Since then, the figures could be separated from the ground, and have bigger, more massive forms at the top of the sculptures, something that it isn’t possible with clay. His work shows humans as fragile and very much imperfect beings, contrary to classical idealists.

Bronze Sculptures by Stephen De Staebler

Stephen De Staebler - Deep Woman Striding, 2010 - Figure with Truncated Wing, 2010 - Standing Woman Leading, 2010
Stephen De Staebler - Deep Woman Striding, 2010 / Figure with Truncated Wing, 2010 / Standing Woman Leading, 2010

Stephen De Staebler - Figure with Crown, 2010 - Figure with Two Found Legs, 2010 - Man with Broad Chest, 2010
Stephen De Staebler - Figure with Crown, 2010 / Figure with Two Found Legs, 2010 / Man with Broad Chest, 2010

He is represented by Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco, USA.

Stephen De Staebler lived and worked in Berkeley, California.

All images courtesy of Dolby Chadwick Gallery.