Kunsthalle Mannheim

Germaine Richier

09 May - 24 Aug 2014

Germaine Richier. Retrospective // “All my sculptures, even the ones from my deepest imagination, start from something true, from an organic truth,” says Germaine Richier. Her work is not missing in any overview of the history of 20th-century sculpture, and yet the French sculptor is an exceptional artist. Based on her pivotal work “La mante precheuse” included in its collection, the Kunsthalle Mannheim in cooperation with the Kunstmuseum Bern presents the exhibition “Germaine Richier. Retrospective". With around 50 sculptures, the show provides an overview of the development and complexity of her oeuvre. Throughout her life, it was the concretely grasped figure that stood at the centre of her art.
One highlight of her work on the image of humanity, which goes back to the Romantic-Surrealistic tradition, is the life-size bronze “Ouragane” – an artificial word that, freely translated, lent the show its title. With its curvaceous corporeality and chapped surface, the female figure created in the post-war years visualises the forces of life as an elementary experience. This depiction of “human life as a phenomenon of nature” is also expressed in Richier’s hybrid hermaphrodites between animal and man influenced by Fantastic Realism, of which some are harnessed in a wire net. In 1944 Richier created her first hybrid creature, a belligerent female locust figure (“La Sauterelle”). Searching for a new sculptural expression for the transient condition of mankind, these animal-man-metamorphoses are shaped by an extraordinary physical liveliness. Similar bodily transformation processes were created through the use of grotesque natural objects such as pebbles, insects and twigs that Richier collected in her studio as models for her fantasy creatures. From the early 1950s onwards, she worked on a series of sculptures in which space and colour attained importance as inherent components of the figure. Her late work includes several lead sculptures whose background panels she had painted by proponents of Informel, such as Maria Vieira da Silva and Hans Hartung.

Tags: Hans Hartung, Germaine Richier