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Artists Niki de Saint Phalle
Niki de Saint Phalle Photo

Niki de Saint Phalle

French-American Painter, Sculptor, Performance, Conceptual, and Installation Artist

Movements and Styles: Nouveau Réalisme, Feminist Art, Performance Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Sculpture

Born: October 29, 1930 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Died: May 21, 2002 - La Jolla, California, USA

Niki de Saint Phalle Timeline

Quotes

"Painting calmed the chaos that shook my soul."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"Most people don't see the edginess in my work. They think it's all fantasy and whimsy."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"I could do whatever I wanted, whether people liked it or not."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"I wanted to make some of the really important things of my generation and some of the biggest."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"With long skirts, you can really buff. People open doors for you and everything."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"Life .. is never the way one imagines it. It surprises you, it amazes you, and it makes you laugh or cry when you don't expect it."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"I love the round, the curves, the undulation, the world is round, the world is a breast."
Niki de Saint Phalle
"It's my destiny to make a place where people can come and be happy: a garden of joy."
Niki de Saint Phalle

"I'm following a course that was chosen for me, following a pressing need to show that a woman can work on a monumental scale."

Niki de Saint Phalle Signature

Synopsis

Niki de Saint Phalle paired bold, jubilant, and cartoonish feminine forms with dark and disturbing material in her multifaceted artistic career. Throughout, she continually disrupted long-held conventions in art, and her iconoclastic approach to her identity and society at large made her an early and important voice to both the feminist movement and the development of early conceptual art. Unlike many of her contemporaries who prioritized the idea behind the work of art rather than the aesthetic demonstration of the idea, Saint Phalle's pieces were highly expressive, visually bold, and often playful - a style that celebrated aesthetics instead of interrogating its structures and conventions. She realized some of the most ambitious, immersive sculptural environments of the 20th century, and also made intensely personal, inward-looking work that reflected on her inner life and relationships. Saint Phalle's broad influence is marked by the variety of contemporary cultural identities and communities that now 'claim' her as their own, including feminist, queer, and racial empowerment movements.

Key Ideas

Saint Phalle's unique brand of feminist art expressed both angst and jouissance in full and equal measure, and explored the complex and confounding ways in which culture and biology co-construct the female experience.
Her groundbreaking Nanas works, the most prolific series in her career, linked the social issues of the universal empowerment of women with the politics of the Black Rights movement in the United States.
Her vibrant, rotund, colorful female figures contrasted heavily with the stark, monumental, and often masculine styles of her contemporaries, including the work of other feminist architects such as Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson.
Her art practice was intensely dialogic and collaborative in a time when the brand of the individual artist 'genius' was most heavily promoted in the art world. Her Tirs (Shooting) painting incorporated the participation of the public, as well as some of the 20th century's most influential artists, including Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

Biography

Niki de Saint Phalle Photo

Childhood

Niki de Saint Phalle was born in France in 1930 to an aristocratic Catholic family. She had an American mother, a French banker father, four siblings, and grew up bilingual in French and English. Her father lost his wealth during the Great Depression and the family moved to the US in 1933, where Saint Phalle attended Brearley School, a girls' school in New York City. Saint Phalle reported later in her life, in an autobiography titled Mon Secret (1994), that her father had sexually abused her from age 11.

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Niki de Saint Phalle Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Niki de Saint Phalle
Interactive chart with Niki de Saint Phalle's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Paul KleePaul Klee
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Henri RousseauHenri Rousseau
Antoni GaudíAntoni Gaudí

Personal Contacts

Jean TinguelyJean Tinguely
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
Jasper JohnsJasper Johns

Movements

DadaDada
Nouveau RéalismeNouveau Réalisme
Feminist ArtFeminist Art

Influences on Artist
Niki de Saint Phalle
Niki de Saint Phalle
Years Worked: 1955 - 2002
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Louise BourgeoisLouise Bourgeois
Ed RuschaEd Ruscha

Personal Contacts

Jean TinguelyJean Tinguely

Movements

Nouveau RéalismeNouveau Réalisme
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Installation ArtInstallation Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art
Feminist ArtFeminist Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Brynn Hatton

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Brynn Hatton
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