Niki de Saint Phalle

  • Born 1930 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
  • Died 2002 in San Diego, CA, USA
Niki de Saint Phalle was a self-taught artist who spent most of her childhood in New York. In 1950 she made her first paintings and two years later moved to Paris, where she studied acting. After a nervous breakdown in 1953 she turned to art, which had a therapeutic effect. In 1955 Saint Phalle moved to Spain where she was inspired by Antonio Gaudí’s work, especially his Park Güell in Barcelona. Back in Paris she met her future husband Jean Tinguely (1925–1991), with whom she shared an artistic and emotional relationship from 1960 onwards. She first attracted attention as an artist in the early 1960s with her “shooting paintings”—relief-like assemblages of plaster and concealed paint containers, which she shot from a distance. Those pieces introduced elements of chance, spectacle and performance. Subsequently Saint Phalle made women and eros her primary subject matter. In 1965 she created her first “Nanas”—rounded, colorfully patterned archetypal female figures. Saint Phalle’s notable commissions include Hon (1966), a building-sized reclining Nana for the Moderna Museet Stockholm. She also collaborated on large-scale projects with Tinguely, like the Stravinsky Fountain (1982) in Paris. Her ambitious Tarot Garden in Tuscany, a twenty-year effort, was unveiled in 1998.

Artworks by Niki de Saint Phalle in the exhibition