Niki De Saint-Phalle

United States of America, 1930-2002

One of the most prominent female artists in the contemporary art canon, Niki de Saint Phalle reinvigorated the representation of women and the female experience in the public imagination. While she has worked in her distinctly unapologetic yet sophisticated approach across an array of media and styles, from Nouveau Realisme to performative action-painting, Saint Phalle is perhaps best known for her Nana characters. Initially sculpted with papier mache, the expansive series was a playful hyperbole of womanhood; brightly coloured, curvaceous, ample and free, simultaneously celebrating its own being and satirising problematic archetypes of the female figure existent in art and culture at large.

Born in 1930 in western suburbs of Paris, Saint Phalle was simultaneously a sculptor, writer, stage designer, filmmaker, but most importantly, one of the most prolific and uncompromising female artists of the 20th century. The self-taught artist first exhibited in 1956 and has gone on to show at countless galleries and museums worldwide. Saint-Phalle is collected by some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, such as the Fondation Claude Pompidou, Paris; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; Tate Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Saint Phalle’s work receives an exceptional level of public recognition. Various permanent and temporary installations feature in iconic public spaces, including the Stravinsky Fountain (or Fontaine des Automates) next to the Centre Pompidou, Paris; sculptures erected in the centre of Park Avenue, New York City; Grotto at the Royal Herrenhäuser Gardens in Hannover and the famous Tarot Garden, a monumental sculpture park in Tuscany.


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