Pascal Verbena

b. 1941, French


Pascal Verbena was born in Marseille. Crypts in an early Christian church there inspire his sculptures. He first started carving while working on a freight ship along the coast of Africa from 1957 to 1962. Two years after returning to Marseille, he married and had a child. Verbena collects driftwood, bark, and stones from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea for his sculptures. Working in his studio near the docks of Marseille, he crafts these into the wall boxes that he calls Habitacles, which often take the shape of triptychs with narrow doors opening out at angles that beckon inward. Close inspection of these works reveals secret compartments, levers, and poetry. Many are made of old desks discarded from the post office where Verbena worked from 1964 until he retired in 1992. An avid fisherman, he made his own glue out of fish bones. He started painting in 1966 and also designed a set and sculpture for a theater. His work was first exhibited at Jacob Gallery L’Atelier in Paris in 1978 and has since been shown in Marseille, London, Munich, New York, and Vence, France.

Portfolio of Work

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La métamorphose, 1990

Carved and assembled wood


Donated to the Milwaukee Art Museum