A current exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN aims to explore visually and historically what curators Darcie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan term as “International Pop”. Their narrative includes art created from the late 50’s into the 1970s in Latin America, Europe and Japan beyond the mainstream conception of Pop Art being American or British. Emerging from the criticism on mass culture and multiples, Pop Art has become a staple in the world of contemporary art that begs re-evaluation on a larger scale.
Being a prominent member of the French artist group Nouveau Réalistes (New Realists), Niki de Saint Phalle’s work Untitled from Edition MAT 64 has been included in the discussion.
On this occasion, author and scholar Nicole Woods published a detailed thesis on the subject after thorough research that included a visit to the NCAF Archives last year. Besides an overview of Saint Phalle’s “shooting events” of the early 1960’s, Woods focuses on the Edition MAT as part of the concept of viewer participation, chance and multiples in the creation of art. Not much has been discussed on topic of the Edition MAT in English publications, therefore it was enlightening to see the process of creating Untitled from Edition MAT 64 by local artist Hollis MacDonald and collector Edgar Nash.
Woods writes: “In its combination of passion and passivity, its inherent performative element, and its experimentation with unusual forms of making (here, guns and bullets carry out much of the artist labor), Saint Phalle’s Untitled from Edition MAT 64 bridges the artist/participant divide by shifting the terms of art practice vis-à-vis the very trope and paradox of creative destruction. […] Set in the context of Saint Phalle’s larger oeuvre, Untitled from Edition MAT 64 can be read both as a transposition of a personal medium of catharsis, and also, through the lens of its multiplication, as an object whose possibility and potentiality exist unmediated by the artist herself.”
NH Galeria opened a show of sculptures and prints in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia last weekend under direction of Nohra Haime Gallery, New York. The exhibition will be on display until March 8th, 2015.
In their announcement the gallery explains:
“Niki de Saint Phalle: Sculpture and Prints presents the work of the last period of one of the most preeminent female artists. Through this exhibition, we contemplate the artistic insight and the social and cultural concerns of Saint Phalle about contributing to a better world.
Through a fresh and perceptive language, and visually connected to pop culture and New Realism, Saint Phalle proposed subjects that would be essential to the shaping of our contemporary world. Some of the subjects presented by the artist’s witty imagery are women’s role in society and Art History, the peace-violence antithesis, and cultural diversity.
California Nana Vase, 2000 is one of her Nanas, voluptuous female figures that serve to represent the ideal archetype for women in modern society, and can be seen in cities and museums all over the world. Her personal world of imaginative creatures that celebrate vital diversity have their references in myths, astronomy and nature; such is the case of Mandala (Blue and Green), 1997. And in works such as Do You Like my New Dress (Brown) (Remembering), 1997, we see her clever analysis about the pressure of our modern world in its concern for appearance, fashion and female sex, a consequence of her involvement in the feminist movement and her readings of Simone de Beauvoir.”
Benjamin Sutton recently visited Art Basel Miami and discovered Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tirs (Shooting Paintings) at the booth of prominent French Galerie Georges-Philippe and Nathalie Vallois. The gallery brought their exhibition ‘Niki de Saint Phalle: En Joue! Assemblages and Tirs (1960–1964)’ to Miami after its debut one year ago in Paris. Accompanying it is a comprehensive and extraordinary catalogue available at the gallery.
In his blog “HYPERALLERGENIC”, Sutton reviews the exhibited works with beautiful detail images. He writes: “The exhibition’s most colorful piece, “Tir (Fragment de Dracula II)” (1961), for instance, looks like a riotous drip painting from afar. But on closer inspection one can clearly see where the artist and her cohorts (including the influential critic Pierre Restany) shot through balloons full of paint with a rifle. The work’s surface is pockmarked with eruptions of color like miniature volcanoes. Unlike the smoothed lines and saturated hues of her best known works, this piece and others on view here bear witness to an unexpected belief in the creative potential of destruction.” Learn More.
The recent weeks saw an array of new and re-editioned publications on Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). In addition to the informative and beautiful catalogues describing the current retrospective exhibition at the RMN-Grand Palais in Paris, original artist books from the 1970s, a contemporary comic novel devoted to Saint Phalle’s life and a new film documentary on her architectural works were made public.
Seasoned Film makers Louise Faure and Anne Julien envisioned and created a new documentary titled Niki de Saint Phalle. An architect’s dream. It just received an award for “Best Documentary in the Arts” by the International Festival of Documentaries of the Arts and Architecture in Rome, Italy. The film is a production of RMN – Grand Palais with the French TV5. In 52 minutes the film maker duo, that has also created the 2012 documentary Niki de Saint and Jean Tinguely. Bonnie and Clyde of the arts, takes their audience on a striking journey to discover Saint Phalle’s monumental projects worldwide and illuminates them visually and art historically from new angles. The Grand Palais is currently showing the film in their auditorium until the end of the exhibition on 02 February 2015. The DVD is also available for purchase in NTSC format (French/English).
The Retrospective Exhibition Catalogue, co-written and edited by pronounced curator Camille Morineau, won the prestigious CatalPa Prize for “Best” of 62 Parisian exhibition catalogues in the year 2014. The heavy book is filled with insightful essays by international scholars (Patrick Andersson, Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, Emilie Bouvard, Bloum Cardenas, Catherine Dossin, Nathalie Ernoult, Catherine Francblin, Catherine Gonnard, Amélia Jones, Ulrich Krempel, Kalliopi Minioudaki, Lucia Pesapane, Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya and Sarah Wilson), an extensive chronology, poignant quotes and large illustrations that place Saint Phalle’s life and œuvre into the historical context of contemporary art. Though currently only available in French, the catalogue is expected to be published in English and Spanish for it’s next venue, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.
CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU to all involved parties creating, designing, writing, correcting, contributing and permitting to the success of these award-winning publications. Vive Niki!
Two rare artists books from the 1970’s were reprinted and made available by Éditions de ‘Amateur. Saint Phalle’s stylistic crayon drawings tell stories of The Devouring Mothers (published first in 1972 by Gimpel Fils), or ask to Please give me a few seconds of your eternity (published first in 1970 by Sergio Tosi). Behind the colorful, and often comical first look of her drawings, thoughtful statements about familial and amorous relationship are made by the artist.
A short and well-illustrated biography by Morineau titled Niki de Saint Phalle (2014, Éditions Gallimard) supplements the exhibition catalogue and elaborates on the authors’ curatorial understanding of Saint Phalle’s oeuvre.
Assistant curator of the Retrospective, Lucia Pesapane, who also currently conducts research for the online Nana Catalogue Raisonné for the Niki Charitable Art Foundation, authored two publications. Le petit dictionnaire: Niki de Saint Phalle en 49 symboles aims to give understanding to visual representation and repeated designs in Saint Phalle’s œuvre. From brides and dragons to guns and hearts, naturally not forgetting the infamous Nanas, Pesapane weaves theses symbols into an art historical context highlighted with quotes by the artist herself. Niki de Saint Phalle. The Tarot Garden is a trilingual discussion on Saint Phalle’s interpretation of the traditional Tarot Cards and the subsequent creation of her sculpture garden. Published by Éditions Ulmer.
Saint Phalle’s two autobiographies Traces: Remembering 1930-1949 (1999) and Harry and Me: The family years (2007)were republished for the French audience by Éditions La Difference, whereas the latter book is now available in French for the first time. A higher-quality printing process allows for these republications to illustrate the artist’s drawings in their original brilliance. Saint Phalle narrates her upbringing and influences on her path to becoming an artist in a conversational style that is both insightful and entertaining. English and German versions are available on the secondary markets.
Niki de Saint Phalle. Le Jardin des Secrets is the first extensive comic-style biography envisioned stylistically by authors Dominique Osuch and Sandrine Martin. In 22 chapters that correspond to the 22 cards of the major arcana of the Tarot Deck, the authors follow Saint Phalle’s life chronologically to illustrate events leading her on her path to becoming the prolific artist she was. Though only available in French, non-speakers can easily understand the personal and artistic growth Saint Phalle undergoes from the comprehensive drawings and play with colors. Published by Casterman.
Details to all publications can be found on our website.
A new exhibition at Galerie Mitterrand opens on 24 October 2014 featuring a selection of Saint Phalles’ infamous Nanas. The show titled “Nanas 60s-90s” illustrates an evolution of the Nanas from their beginnings made from chicken wire shapes covered with fabric patches, wool and resin, to a time when technology permitted smooth forms and heightened colors giving them their more commonly recognizable looks. In 1965 Saint Phalle started creating the frolicking, dancing, tumbling sculptures inspired by her pregnant friend Clarice Rivers. With them Saint Phalle captures a feminist spirit: of a “joie de vivre”, of “I am what I am” and directs attention to social questions of women’s liberation and equality. On display until 2 December 2014.
For the annual Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) held in Paris from 23 – 26 October 2014 Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois showcases a different side of Saint Phalle’s oeuvre. Assemblage (Figure with Dartboard head) (ca. 1962) is an example of combining her early Target Portraits with figurative assemblage elements. It remains unshot in its pristinely white state exposing a gaping heart cavity among jumbled toys suggesting the emotional loss of a lover. With I woke up last night (1994) Saint Phalle created a kinetic painting dealing with themes of vanitas and death. The series of the so-called Tableaux Éclatés (Exploding Paintings) are an homage to her husband and collaborator, Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (1925 – 1991), who created Meta-Relief Dislocation Assurée (1959) early in his career. Both are exhibited at the Galerie GP & N Vallois booth, contrasting and complimenting each other in artistic vision.
The galerie also exhibits a Fontaine aux Nanas at the Jardin des Tuileries this week. The working fountain depicting four Nanas in a bath scene convey a carefree joy within the royal gardens. Other artists featured for this open air presentation by Galerie GP & N Vallois include César and Pilar Albarracín.
Paris has been in “Niki Fever” for the last few weeks since the opening of the Retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais. Congratulations to Camille Morineau, curator of the exhibition, and the passionate staff at the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN) who made this show a success already. The exhibition will be on display until 2 February 2015 before it travels to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Until then, the City is buzzing with Niki. Check out the events surrounding the Retrospective exhibition and subscribe to our newsletter:
Nana Danseuse (Rouge d’orient – Bloum) (1995) is currently installed at the banks of the River Seine to celebrate the inauguration of Les Jardins de l’Archipel des berges de Seine Niki de Saint Phalleon 18 September 2014 by Paris’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo. In the presence of Saint Phalle’s family, the Mayor paid tribute to the artist’s accomplishments and revealed the commemorative plaque. Admission is free. On view until 2 November 2014.
La Cabeza(2000) is featured at the CENTQUATRE until 1 February 2015. A collaborative effort between the Niki Charitable Art Foundation, the City of Paris and the Réunion de musées nationaux–Grand Palais brought this impressive mosaic sculpture to the 19th arrondissement. This is the first time La Cabeza has traveled outside of the USA for exhibition complementing the current retrospective of Niki de Saint Phalle at the Grand Palais. We would like to extend our thanks to Galerie Mitterrand and Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, the RMN and the City of Paris, as well as anonymous donors for their generous contributions, which made this endeavor possible. Admission is free.
The Grand Palais auditorium features films by Niki de Saint Phalle on select Fridays (12 noon), including her adult fairy-tale Un Rêve plus long que la nuit (1975, 1h30) and psychoanalytical and explorative drama Daddy (1973, 1h23) directed by Peter Whitehead. In the series Le choix de Niki (Niki’s choice) the Grand Palais shows films on select Wednesdays (6:30 pm) that Saint Phalle referred to as influential to her character and work. Please check local listings for dates and times.
A new film by Louis Faure and Anne Julien titled “Niki de Saint Phalle, un rêve d’architecte” will also be shown at the museum’s auditorium every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until 2 February 2015. The film discusses Saint Phalle’s monumental works worldwide in a narrative accompanied by scenic camera movements that let the viewer experience the artist’s vision from a new perspective.Please check local listings for times.
Children’s Workshop. Children can create their original artwork inspired by Saint Phalle’s assemblages or target paintings after a guided visit through the exhibition. Recycled materials are being transformed into art of today’s context. Duration is 2 hours. Click here to make reservations.
HEADS Up for the new exhibition NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE: NANAS 60s-90s at Galerie Mitterand from 24 October to 20 December. Galerie Mitterand has been instrumental in previous and current research to find Niki de Saint Phalle’s NANAs worldwide for an upcoming online Catalogue Raisonné of Nanas. More information on how to submit entries are posted on our website.
From the introduction to Sophie Flouquet’s interview with Catherine Francblin, author of a new French-language biography of Niki de Saint Phalle, in Beaux Arts Magazine for October 2013:
“Personnalité unique en son genre dans le paysage artistique des années 1960 à 1980, la fantasque Niki de Saint Phalle n’avait curieusement jamais fait l’objet d’une biographie en France. Lacune comblée avec la Révolte à l’oeuvre.
“Tout le monde connaît ses Nanas aux rondeurs monumentales et l’exubérante fontaine Stravinsky installée aux abords du Centre Pompidou. Mais peu de gens savent qui fut vraiment Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002), jeune et belle aristocrate franco-américaine qui devint la seule femme engagée aux côtés des Nouveaux Réalistes et l’indéfectible compagne du sculpteur suisse Jean Tinguely. Une biographie signée de la critique d’art Catherine Francblin vient enfin dresser le portrait complet de cette artiste qu’une première grande rétrospective honorera à l’automne 2014 au Grand Palais.”
The full interview can be found in Beaux Arts Magazine for October 2013. Catherine Francblin’s biography of Niki de Saint Phalle, la Révolte à l’oeuvre, is forthcoming from éditions Hazan.
A new exhibition of work by Niki de Saint Phalle will be opening in Paris in November at Galerie Vallois, in the sixth arrondissement of Paris.
The show, entitled “Niki de Saint Phalle en joue! Assemblages & Tirs 1958–1964,” will include an assortment of Niki’s assemblages and shooting paintings (tirs) from the groundbreaking period at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s.
The exhibition, which will open on 8 November and run through 21 December 2013, will take place at Galerie Vallois, 36 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France.
On August 16, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be screening the film Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely: The Bonnie and Clyde of Art. This 2010 documentary details the tumultuous 30-year relationship between the two sculptors, whose work is now on view in the Bechtler exhibition Artistic Relationships: Partners, Mentors, Lovers.
A presentation by Bechtler President and CEO John Boyer will precede the film screening. An event reception, including a cash bar and free light bites, begins at 6pm in the Bechtler lobby, followed by the presentation and film screening at 7pm.
The Bechtler Museum’s Modernism + Film program investigates themes in design, engineering, architecture, and modern/contemporary art through the lens of film. Developed in partnership with AIA Charlotte and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, the Modernism + Film program is offered the third Friday of each month. Each month’s event includes a presentation to engage audience members about themes highlighted in the film. The full Modernism + Film season can be viewed on the program’s main web page.
Tickets are $10 for non-members, $8 for members, and $5 for students with valid school ID. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 704.353.9200, or at the Bechtler Museum visitor services desk. Student tickets must be purchased at the visitor services desk.
Art historian and curator Sarah Wilson, a professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art, will be leading a conference entitled “Niki de Saint Phalle” in June in the town of Milly-la-Forêt, near Paris.
The conference, held in cooperation with the Association Le Cyclop, will take place on Thursday 6 June starting at 7:30pm at the Espace culture Paul Bédu. The venue is located at 8, rue Farnault in Milly-la-Forêt, a small town outside Paris where the mammoth sculpture Le Cyclop, a collaboration between Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, can also be found. All are invited, and admission is free. Learn more.