Germaine Richier (French, 1904-1959) La Vierge folle 1946

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Lot 3* AR TP
Germaine Richier
(French, 1904-1959)
La Vierge folle
1946

Sold for £ 377,000 (US$ 461,179) inc. premium
Germaine Richier (French, 1904-1959)
La Vierge folle
1946

signed, numbered 0/6 and stamped Fonderie E. Godard Paris on the feet
bronze on stone base

Bronze: 132 by 38 by 30 cm.
51 15/16 by 14 15/16 by 11 13/16 in.

Overall with Base: 145 by 45 by 35 cm.
57 1/16 by 17 11/16 by 13 3/4 in.

This work was conceived in 1946, and is from an edition of six numbered versions and five subsequent editions numbered HC1, HC2, HC3, EA and 0/6.

Footnotes

  • This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity issued by Madame Françoise Guiter.

    Provenance
    Estate of the Artist, Montpellier
    Ditesheim & Maffei Fine Art, Neuchâtel
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

    Exhibited
    Bern, Kunsthalle, Sculpteurs contemporains de l'Ecole de Paris, 1948, no. 123
    Paris, Galerie Maeght, Germaine Richier, 1948
    Basel, Kunsthalle, Arp, Germaine Richier, Laurens, 1948
    Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 13 sculpteurs de Paris, 1948-1949
    Paris, Maison de la Pensée Française, La sculpture en France de Rodin à nos jours, 1949, no. 179
    Basel, Kunsthalle, Sculptures: Germaine Richier et Peintures: Bissière, H.R. Schiess, Vieira da Silva, Raoul Ubac, 1954, no. 3
    Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Germaine Richier, 1956, p. 19, no. 6, another example illustrated in black and white (detail)
    Zurich, Kunsthaus, Germaine Richier, 1963, no. 27
    Antibes, Musée Grimaldi-Chateau, Hommage à Germaine Richier, 1963
    Arles, Musée Reattu, Germaine Richier, 1964, no. 13
    Paris, Galerie Creuzevault, Germaine Richier: 1904-1959, 1966, n.p., another example illustrated in black and white
    Annecy, Château des ducs de Nemours, Germaine Richier, 1967
    Paris, Musée Rodin, IVe Exposition Internationale de Sculpture Contemporaine, 1971, n.p., no. 85, another example illustrated in black and white (detail)
    Paris, Galerie Beaubourg, Germaine Richier, 1978, n.p., another example illustrated in black and white
    Fontenay-aux-Roses, Château Sainte-Barbe, Hommage à Lucien Thinot, fondeur d'art, 1986
    Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Germaine Richier, 1988, no. 8
    Paris, Galerie H. Odermatt - Ph. Cazeau, Hommage à Germaine Richier (1902-1959), p. 21, another example illustrated in black and white
    Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Passions Privées: Collections particulières d'art moderne et contemporain en France, 1995-1996, p. 276, no. 7, another example illustrated in black and white
    Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, Germaine Richier: Rétrospective, 1996, p. 73, no. 29, another example illustrated in colour and pp. 13 and 214, another example illustrated in black and white (installation view)
    Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Germaine Richier, 1997, p. 92, no. 28, another example illustrated in black and white and pp. 175 and 188, another example illustrated in black and white (installation view)
    Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Germaine Richier, 2006, p. 74, another example illustrated in black and white and p. 75, another example illustrated in black and white
    Neuchâtel, Ditescheim & Maffei Fine Art, Horst Janssen - Germaine Richier, 2010, the present example exhibited
    Bern, Kunstmuseum; Mannheim, Kunsthalle, Germaine Richier. Retrospektive, 2013-2014, p. 90, no. 28, another example illustrated in black and white

    Literature
    Georges Limbour, 'Visite à un Sculpteur' in: Derrière le Miroir, no. 15, July 1948, p. 2, another example illustrated in black and white (installation view)
    Yves Taillandier, 'Les Créateurs' in: Connaissance des Arts, no. 77, July 1958, p. 29, another example illustrated in black and white (installation view)
    Jean Cassou, Modern Sculptors: Germaine Richier, Amsterdam 1961, n.p., no. 4, another example illustrated in black and white
    Enrico Crispolti, 'Germaine Richier' in: I Maestri della Scultura, no. 65, 1966, p. 52, no. III, another example illustrated in black and white
    Maurice Fréchuret, 1946, L'art de la Reconstruction, Antibes 1996, p. 58, another example illustrated in colour
    Jennifer Buonocore and Clara Touboul Eds., Germaine Richier, New York 2013, p. 38, another example illustrated in black and white (installation view) and p. 42, another example illustrated in black and white (installation view)



    Germaine Richier is now widely recognised as one of the greatest sculptors of the Twentieth Century despite being overlooked during her lifetime and in the decades which followed her premature death in 1959, her work overshadowed by her more famous male contemporaries. Combining a distinctive naturalism with elements of the surreal, demonstrating her love of materiality and her fascination with texture and volume, her sculptures are compelling and complex. In La Vierge Folle of 1946 we discover a nude female form, she is vulnerable yet also robust, displaying the voluptuous curves of a prehistoric female idol, imbuing a sense of the unpredictable and the uncertain. At slightly smaller than life size, this Vierge Folle (which translates literally as 'The Mad Virgin') seems rather exposed, unsure of her next move. The work's title likely refers to a biblical tale from the book of Matthew, in which five 'foolish' virgins miss out on the opportunity of marriage due to their failure to plan ahead. Created just after the end of World War II, at a time when the artist was able to return to her native France after a period of exile in Switzerland, this work recalls a period of dramatic change, the beginning, it seemed, of a new world order. Its impressive exhibition history demonstrates the historical importance of this work in Richier's wider oeuvre: as a sculpture which provokes a strong emotional reaction, this is surely an example of the artist at her finest, her most intense and her most perceptive.

    Despite her clear debt to modernism, Richier remained resolutely traditional in some aspects of her practice. In sculptures such as La Vierge Folle we witness her interest in the disintegration of form, the roughness of the dark bronze surface demonstrating the dynamic gesturality of her creative process is reminiscent of her direct contemporary Alberto Giacometti, whom she studied with under the tutelage of Antoine Bourdelle. Yet there are few motifs more classical than a nude female form, with the most classic, contrappostal posing, that of a startled figure coyly covering herself evocative of the Aphrodite of Knidos, it is a subject that has been explored throughout the ages. In the creation of such sculptures, Richier insisted on the use of a live model, believing that this was a vital aspect of her work, suggesting that even the most imaginative sculptures needed to retain their roots in reality: "On peut ainsi déboucher de plain-pied dans la poésie. J'invente plus facilement en regardant la nature, sa presence me rend indépendante" (Like that we can lead straight into poetry. I invent more easily while looking at nature, its presence allows me to be more independent) (The artist in: Jean-Louis Prat, Germaine Richier: Retrospective, Paris 1996, p. 33). Embodying this fascinating artistic approach, this combination of the classical and the avant-garde, La Vierge Folle, 1946 is a vivid reminder of the importance of Germaine Richier's role in the development of modern sculpture. Presenting a rare opportunity to acquire an early sculpture of this size, the work is a fitting reminder, if one were needed, of her incredible insight into the vagaries of the human condition.
Contacts
Germaine Richier (French, 1904-1959) La Vierge folle 1946
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