Germaine Richier
Date 1954
Medium Gelatin silver print
Dimensions 54 x 43.5 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-736
La Mante, one of Germaine Richier’s most celebrated sculptures, both for its theme as well as its technique, was created in 1946. A medium-sized version exists in bronze, with a height of 69 centimetres (e.g. La mante prêcheuse in the Von-der-Heydt Museum in Wuppertal) as well as a ‘large’ version, also in bronze, which is 130 centimetres high and was moulded in 1951 (such as the example in the Berardo Collection, one of eleven copies, or that in the Antwerp Sculpture Museum). This insect, a motif in the artist’s work, also provided the title for Arnaud Spire's article 'Germaine Richier ou la stratégie de la mante réligieuse' [Germaine Richier or the strategy of the praying mantis] which appeared in L’Humanité on 9 May 1996. Germaine Richier uses an expressionist technique to represent this insect, a frightening and aggressive creature, in a human pose. Through the bronze we see her work in beaten, crushed, and kneaded earth as well as her aversion to the full and the smooth. In her last sculpture, La Montagne [the mountain], dating from 1956, she reprises the idea of the praying mantis to depict one of the two characters in the piece, the aggressor. AC