Richier, Germaine (1904–1959)

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Richier, Germaine (1904–1959)

French sculptor. Born in 1904 in Grans, Bouches-de-Rhîne, near Arles, France; died in 1959 in Juan-Les-Pins; attended Montpelier École des Beaux Arts, 1922–25; married Otto Baenninger (a sculptor), in 1929.

Sculpted The Toad (1942); won the sculpture prize at Sâo Paolo Biennale (1951).

Germaine Richier was born near Arles, France, in 1904, and raised on a farm. Her talent grew spontaneously, even in the absence of nurturing by her father who was biased against women artists. Despite her father's opinion, Richier studied at the Montpelier École des Beaux Arts in 1922. She later studied with Auguste Rodin's student, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, between 1925 and 1929. By 1930, Richier was noted for her bronze busts and other figures, and in 1934 held her first solo show at the Galerie Max Kaganovitch in Paris. During World War II, Richier took refuge in Switzerland, but even in that neutral environment she developed emotional scars from the war. In contrast to her earlier works that demonstrated the classical influence of Charles Despiau, Richier's later figures were given to symbolism, free-form, and somber attitudes, with disturbing images of death and powerful, distorted figures. Her Don Quichotte de la Forêt (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis) is characteristic of her surrealistic work. In 1968, a "Hommage Germaine Richier" was held at the Musée Rodin, in Paris. Other retrospectives followed in London (1973), and in Paris (1992).

Gloria Cooksey , freelance writer, Sacramento, California