© VBK, Wien 2011
The French sculptress Germaine Richier is one of the most important representatives of Surrealist sculpture in the post-war period. She acquired a sound training in her craft from Emile Bourdelle, a pupil of Rodin, at whose academy she worked until Bourdelles death in 1929. This not only explains why, in contrast to many of her contemporaries, Richier could never completely free herself from figurative art and move forward to abstraction; it also most probably explains her tendency towards fragmentisation. As the small lead sculpture illustrates, the artist liked to break up and tear apart compact forms until she had created the impression of something falling apart or even decomposing. This untitled work (Inventory S 0308) recalls a broken human body such as the body of Christ as depicted in late medieval Depositions or Entombments. The far larger bronze sculpture was made only a few years later and is one of the most important pieces in Richier's mature oeuvre. As is so often the case with this artist it shows a creature from the world of folk tale and myth: a horse with six heads and a wild, flowing mane seems to plunge forward at an extended gallop. Whether we are meant to associate this monster with a mythological figure such as the nine-headed Hydra or the six-headed Scylla or whether it perhaps represents one of the man-eating horses of Diomedes, is left completely open. All that is certain is that this menacing creature has nothing to do with the conventional image of the horse as Man's loyal and intelligent servant.
Before the artist started to produce this piece in 1956 she made a much smaller plaster bozzetto that was later also cast in bronze.