In Le Diabolo Richier depicts a young woman seemingly caught within a web of wires, a formal innovation that was a signature feature of her compositions in the 1950s. These wires reveal not only Richier's interest in the placement of the figure in space but also the hybridization of human and animal forms. As art historian Sarah Wilson notes: 'The idea of a reversal of evolution, the degenerating of the human through mammal and bat and bird and insect forms was a powerful metaphor not only of nature, but of regression to a more bestial universe in the aftermath of the atrocities of the war years'. (S.Wilson, op. cit., p. 53). Le Diabolo, however, refutes the idea of entrapment and instead conjures up a more determinist image of the young girl seizing control of the wires of destiny.
Identified as the most important French sculptor in bronze of the postwar period, Wilson points out that Richier's 1947 solo exhibition in the Anglo-French Art Centre in London presaged the work of a younger generation of British sculptors including Lynn Chadwick, Reg Butler and Kenneth Armitage, whose spiky, linear forms reflected the anxieties and fears of an age after Hiroshima and the Holocaust. But Richier's evocation of a postwar world was uniquely framed by the feminine dimensions of her art: woman as creator versus woman as the embodiment of ensnarement and death.
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