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Germaine Richier was born in Grans, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, on September 16, 1902. After six years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier, she moved to Paris in 1926, where she studied privately with Antoine Bourdelle from 1927 to 1929. Her first solo exhibition was held at the Galerie Max Kaganovitch in Paris in 1934. Richier was granted a sculpture prize by the Blumenthal Foundation in New York in 1936. The following year she took part in the World’s Fair in Paris, where she received an award, and participated in an exhibition of European women artists at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris. Richier showed with Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Robert Delaunay, André Derain, Jacques Lipchitz, and others in the French Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
Richier lived primarily in Switzerland and Provence during World War II. In Switzerland she exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur in 1942 and shared an exhibition with Arnold d’Altri, Marino Marini, and Fritz Wotruba, at the Kunstmuseum Basel in 1944. After her return to Paris in 1946 she developed her metamorphic imagery. She became increasingly well-known after the war and during the late 1940s and the 1950s exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. Her work was represented at the Venice Biennale in 1948, 1952, and 1954. In 1948 she exhibited with Jean Arp and Henri Laurens at the Galerie d’Art Moderne in Basel and was given an important solo show at the Galerie Maeght in Paris. She executed a Crucifixion for the church of Assy in 1950. Richier was awarded a sculpture prize in 1951 at the São Paulo Bienal.
Following an important retrospective at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris in 1956, she settled again in Provence. The next year her first solo show in New York took place at the Martha Jackson Gallery. In 1958 Richier participated in group exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bern and the Musée Rodin, Paris, and was given her first solo presentation in an American museum at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She returned to Paris in 1959, visiting Antibes that summer on the occasion of her solo exhibition at the Musée Grimaldi, Château d’Antibes. Richier died in Montpellier on July 31, 1959.