Remembering Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle with I woke up last night, 1994. Photo: Laurent Condominas

Niki de Saint Phalle was many things to many people, and most importantly she was an artist.In the 20 years since her death, Saint Phalle’s art has gained more relevance and notoriety as time passes. Her views on social and political issues such as female roles, equality, and violence were progressive for the time period, even in the world of art. Saint Phalle always seemed to be a step ahead, in her convictions as well as in her artwork. 

On May 21st, the Niki Charitable Art Foundation celebrates the life of an artist, our artist, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki Saint Phalle used her art to express her views on issues beyond her own personal life: female independence and equality, racism, LGBTQ+, AIDS, abortion, gun violence, and the environment are some of the topics her artistry covered. 

Since her passing in 2002, there have been 780 exhibitions featuring Saint Phalle’s art worldwide, with 139 being solo shows and installations. Notable among them are the major retrospective Niki de Saint Phalle at the Grand Palais in Paris, curated by Camille Morineau and Lucia Pesapane in 2014 before traveling to Muséo Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain in 2015.

View the video created by Réunion des Musées Nationaux here

Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life in 2021 at MoMA PS1 in New York was the artist’s first major US survey show after her passing, curated by Ruba Katrib. It featured an extensive body of works, film, and photographs.

Photo: MoMA PS1

The remarkable exhibition Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s opened at the Menil Collection in Houston last year. It highlights the ten years during which Saint Phalle created her tirs and Nanas, and was curated jointly by Michelle White of the Menil Collection and Jill Dawsey of MCASD.
The show traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego where it is currently on view until July. For more information and to plan your visit, go to the museum’s website:

Photo: Emily Corkery / MCASD La Jolla
Photo: Emily Corkery / MCASD La Jolla

A more unknown fact is that when Niki de Saint Phalle passed away on May 21, 2002 it was already Jean Tinguely’s birthday in Europe due to the time difference. The two were friends, lovers, spouses, competitors, and collaborators united in their art.

Jean Tinguely remains truly contemporary in his work; a kinetic metal poet to be rediscovered. This Sunday, May 22nd, Jean Tinguely’s monumental sculpture Le Cyclop reopens to the public after a major two-year restoration. Visit to organize your visit. 

Garden setting with Saint Phalle's sculptures in the background. In the forefront Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely walk toward the camera.
Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely in Dannemois, 1975. Photo: Laurent Condominas

We miss you, but your spirit lives on!