"At twenty, in Paris," Lachaise wrote in 1928, "I met a young American person who immediately became the primary inspiration which awakened my vision and the leading influence that has directed my forces." The young American in question, Isabel Nagle, would eventually become Lachaise's wife, and Standing Woman and other works are certainly inspired by her. In Isabel, Lachaise seems to have seen greater forces and principles of human life: "You are," he once told her, "the Goddess I am searching to express in all things."
Like many twentieth-century sculptors, Lachaise wanted to escape the classical tradition, and some of his smaller, more private works distend and exaggerate parts of the female body in ways that recall the swollen forms of Paleolithic fertility figures. The unshakable calm and dignity of Standing Woman are closer to classical art, but Lachaise stretches classical proportion with muscular rounding and augmented mass and height. For all their weight, the figure's breasts and hips, arms and thighs balance evenly around her slender waist. Her easy pose, commanding uprightness, and direct gaze give her a regal force. Standing Woman embodies Lachaise's stated ambition for his art: to express "the glorification of the human being, of the human body, of the human spirit, with all that there is of daring, of magnificence, of significance."
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 167.