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 Mordern Art

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
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.

Le Palais (Auberge) 1978-79 © 2015 NIKI CHARITABLE ART FOUNDATION, All rights reserved. Photo: Lech Juretko 

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.

Vive Niki !