On May 26th 2016, the Tarot Garden‘s oldest guardian: Ugo Celletti, passed away at the age of 87.
Ugo Celletti was the second crew member helping Niki de Saint Phalle to create her monumental sculpture garden. He started in 1979, at the age of 50 : a postman in his town in the morning, a worker at the Garden by the afternoon. He’d discovered a passion for mosaic work, and adorned many of the sculptures with mirror, glass and customized ceramics.
His love for the garden and its visual beauty drove Ugo Celletti to work there for 36 years and to encourage his nephews to join the adventure. Some of his family members are still maintaining the Tarot Garden today. Thank you, Ugo.
La Mort n’existe pas. Life is eternal.
Watch Ugo Celletti apply glass mosaic to the Empress.
The relationship between Niki de Saint Phalle and Fashion is strong and significant. She expressed herself through Fashion, she had a vision and designers believed in her sense of style and advice, like Marc Bohan, at the time, the designer for Dior.
At 20, she was a model, on the covers of Life and Vogue magazines. At 30, at the beginning of her artistic career, she said to the NYC Herald Tribune : […] I don’t mind wearing high heeled boots or a flower in my hair if I am in the mood. I think clothes should make a statement. Mine do. They’re the way I feel.
Niki de Saint Phalle in Paris by 1965 – photo: Jill Krementz
A year later, Niki de Saint Phalle’s solo show opening of “Les Nanas” at Galerie Iolas in Paris was memorable not only for the joyful feminine figures made of chicken wire, fabric and yarn but for the real women in the room, too! In an article published by Women’s Wear Daily on March 30, 1966, it is described in detail every extravagant outfits wore by the Paris’ It girls, among them, of course, Niki!
Niki de Saint Phalle has always been a great source of inspiration for artists: painters, sculptors, jewelers… And again, very recently, we noticed how much fashion designers today keep borrowing her graphic elements and color palette to nourish their creations.
A month ago, during New York Fashion Week 2016, Japanese designer, Anna Sui incorporated Saint Phalle‘s Nanas in dresses and capes, as parts of her latest ready-to-wear collection.
NYC – FEBRUARY 17: Anna Sui collection – New York Fashion Week Fall 2016 – Photo by Luca Tombolini
Also, Libertine American designer, Johnson Hartig, dipped into Niki de Saint Phalle’s graphic repertoire for his latest creations. The open-hand, the heart and the sun symbols, just to name a few, are distinctive reacquiring elements from Saint Phalle’s alphabet that Hartig incorporated to dresses.
“I studied painting and drawing in school so art has always been near and dear. Niki de Saint Phalle, and the Tarot Garden Tuscany were big inspirations” told Hartig to Fashion Times reporters, backstage after the show.
NYC – FEBRUARY 15: A model walks the runway wearing Libertine
Fall 2016 during New York Fashion Week – Photo by Neilson Barnard
Two weeks later, on the first day of Paris Fashion Week 2016, Dutch designer Liselore Frownijn, using Niki de Saint Phalle as a muse, paid homage to strong and artistic women with her collection ‘Let’s Hear It For The Lions’. The collection was made of voluminous tunics, curved bomber jackets and wide-legged trousers.
PARIS – MARCH, 1: Liselore Frown collection – Paris Fashion Week Fall 2016
Photo by Filep Motwary
‘They’re very naïvely done in a bold way with primary colors, bold shapes, round volumes, polka dots. It’s a very optimistic way of creating and I wanted to catch this energy that I got from her (Saint Phalle’s) work in the collection,’ says Frowijn.
Since 2015 the French stylist, Axelle Migé, behind the luxury brand Coppelia Pique, has created two collections inspired by Niki de Saint Phalle! Through her dresses she gives life to Tir, Nanas, Tarot Garden and, expressed in her own way, the macabre tension surrounding La Mariée.
On February 13th, a new retrospective of Niki de Saint Phalle’s artworks opened at ARKEN Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, and is on view until July 31st. The ARKEN website provides detailed information on the exhibition with multimedia resources.
With its innovative design the entrance of the exhibition is reminiscent of Hon built at the Moderna Museet of Stockholm in 1966. A large portrait of Saint Phalle, excerpt of her film Daddy, “welcomes” visitors with a pointed rifle.
Niki de Saint Phalle at ARKEN – Instagram photo by agnew
Some highlights of the exhibitions feature L’Accouchement Rose (Pink Birth) and Marilyn both from 1964. Niki de Saint Phalle created this figurative assemblage of Marilyn Monroe two years after the actress’s death, and almost at the same time Warhol made pop prints her smiling portrait. But here, instead of the familiar pin-up, Saint Phalle assembled a papier-collé bust with dramatic make-up under blonde hair. A wild boar climbs between flowers on her shoulder, one of her breast is covered with fans and baby dolls. Her hand is cut off, and instead there is a dense colony of small pink bananas like maggots on rotten meat. The sculpture expresses the martyred emotions of a female icon behind the colorful picture that society created.
Marilyn by Niki de Saint Phalle – Instagram photo by eilamabburg
In a room dedicated to Tirs (Shooting paintings), cathedrals, altars and even the Venus of Milo are bleeding colors. They are the violent remains of an execution where nobody dies. Niki de Saint Phalle described her process: “[…] I was shooting at my own violence and the VIOLENCE of the times. By shooting at my own violence, I no longer had to carry it inside of me like a burden. It was a great therapy for me.” Two pieces displayed in this room are fragments of an impressive Tir tableau Saint Phalle shot at Galerie Køpcke in Copenhagen in 1961. They are being shown to public for the very first time.
Tir (fragment de tableau Galerie Køpcke), 1961.
Photo: ARKEN Museum of Modern Art
Tir (fragment de tableau Galerie Køpcke), 1961.
Photo: Leclerc Maison de Ventes
Furthermore, many of Saint Phalle’s architectural projects and models are on featured. Le Palais (Auberge) is a large model from NCAF collection, recently restored to be shown in this extraordinary exhibition. Le Palais envisions an artist community in Saint Phalle’s unmistakable style with undulating archways, playful decorations and colorful figures.
We hope you visit Niki at ARKEN and share your thoughts and pictures online #NikiPower !
We would like to thank the ARKEN Museum staff and guests, curators Camille Morineau and Lucia Pesapane, as well as Galerie GP&N Vallois and private lenders for their generous help in organizing this beautiful show.
August 4th marks the opening of a new exhibition at Nohra Haime Gallery, New York which showcases a series of large, colorful prints by artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
“CALIFORNIAN DIARY is a collection of silkscreens that compose a visual diary of Saint Phalle’s life and work during her first year in California. [They] consist of personal designs and drawings of figures and landscapes accompanied by entries and notes about her experiences,” the gallery informs.
The artist’s connection to California started in the 1960s with a first visit with Swiss kinetic artist Jean Tinguely, and lasted well throughout her career. In 1962 Saint Phalle shot up enormous Tir Tableaus on Sunset Boulevard and in Malibu’s scenic hills. 1983 saw an installation on San Diego’s UC campus: Sun God, which quickly became a favorite among the students. Ten years later Saint Phalle moved to La Jolla for her health and settled there until her death in 2002. California was a constant source of inspiration for the artist. It re-awakened her fervor to create which is reflected in her later œuvre with expansive projects like Gila (1996), Coming Together (2001) and Queen Califia’s Magical Circle (1999-2003).
The “open conversations” with her diary, supposedly intimate and secret, candidly capture her contemplations about her new surroundings, landscapes, people, and life itself.
what is Time?
TIME PAST, TIME PRESENT, TIME FUTURE
TIME UNKNOWN. All the other times I don’t know about?
ORDER / CHAOS (I am chaos) ?
WHICH CAME FIRST?
Do they exist side by side??
I want to Control and Explain instead of just SURRENDERING to the MYSTERY
All MY CREATIVE MOMENTS come out of CHAOS.
FIREWORKS FLAMING RAINBOW”
The exhibition is on view until September 12th. An opening reception is scheduled for Tuesday, August 4th from 6 – 8 pm.
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 9 August 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.