Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002)
Niki de Saint Phalle was a French artist best known for her sculptural female figures known as Nanas. Colorful, patterned, and crafted in a variety of shapes and sizes, these sculpted women embody de Saint Phalle’s feminist spirit. Born Catherine Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle on October 29, 1930 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, the self-taught artist first began making work as a form of therapy. She went on to become a part of the Nouveau Réalisme movement that included Christo, Yves Klein, and Jean Tinguely. Early in her career, de Saint Phalle became inspired by the architecture of Antoni Gaudí while on vacation in Spain, and planned to make a piece on par with his famed public park design, Parc Güell. Realized over two decades, de Saint Phalle’s Il Giardino dei Tarocchi (The Tarot Garden) was filled with 22 of her signature monuments and is located in Tuscany. “It’s my destiny to make a place where people can come and be happy: a garden of joy,” she once mused. The artist died on May 21, 2002 in La Jolla, CA at the age of 71. Today, her works are held in the collections of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Musée d’Art Moderne d’Art Contemporain in Nice, among others.