Niki de Saint-Phalle

Niki de Saint-Phalle


Nationality: French/American

Birth Place: Paris (Ville de Paris department, Île-de-France, France)

Niki de Saint Phalle was born near Paris on October 29, 1930. She and her family moved to the United States in 1933 after struggling through the Great Depression. She graduated from a Maryland school in 1947, and then spent a few years working as a fashion model, gracing the covers of Life and French Vogue.

Niki de Saint Phalle eloped with author Harry Matthews at age eighteen, and together they had a daughter and a son. It was also during this time that Phalle began painting, experimenting with different media and styles. After divorcing Matthews, Phalle lived with Jean Tinguely, a sculptor. She became a member of the Parisian group who called themselves “Nouveaux Realistes.”

Phalle’s first art exhibition was in Switzerland in 1956, where she displayed her oil paintings. She then took up work in collage, often depicting weapons in her work. In the 1960’s, Phalle presented her “shooting pictures,” paintings that were the result of shooting at polythene bags filled with paints that were covered in white plaster in human form.

Her work then turned to a focus on female’s roles in modern society. Phalle’s most well-known works are “Nanas,” colorful, exuberant, buxom female figures made of wool, yarn, paper-mache and wire scaffolding, and later polyester. In 1966, she collaborated on a large-scale sculpture of a reclining woman called “hon-en katedral” which invited viewers to enter the internal environment by entering between her legs. The piece elicited vast public reactions from across the globe.

Inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona, Phalle began work on The Tarot Garden in Tuscany in 1979. The garden, containing sculptures of the symbols found on Tarot cards, took nearly 20 years to complete. In 1988, Phalle collaborated with Tinguely to design the world-famous “Stravinsky Fountain” in Paris. This whimsical work includes sixteen works of sculpture and moving and spraying water, representing the works of composer Igor Stravinsky.

In 2000, the Japan Art Society presented Phalle with the Praemium Imperiale award for sculpture. The same year, Phalle donated 300 pieces of her art to the Sprengel Museum in Germany. The next year she made another donation of 170 pieces to the MAMAC museum in Nice, France.

Phalle died in 2002 after suffering from emphysema, an unfortunate consequence of inhaling toxic polyester fumes for years while working on her projects. Her success continues posthumously.


Niki de Saint-Phalle Original Art Values Sold at Auction

Item Realized
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French, 1930-2002) Angel of Temperance, 1987 Sculpted resin 27 x 21 x 8 inches (68.6 x 53.3 x 2
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French, 1930-2002)Angel of Temperance, 1987Sculpted resin27 x 21 x 8 inches (68.6 x 53.3 x 2...
Lot 33135
Auction 5004
Thursday, May 8, 2008
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French, 1930-2002) Eleven Maquettes, 1970s Sculpted resin, wire mesh frame Various dimensions...
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French, 1930-2002)Eleven Maquettes, 1970sSculpted resin, wire mesh frameVarious dimensions, ... (Total: 11 Items)
Lot 33137
Auction 5004
Thursday, May 8, 2008
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French, 1930-2002) The Couple, 2000 Painted polyester resin 12-1/4 inches (31.0 cm) Ed, EA III
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French, 1930-2002)The Couple, 2000Painted polyester resin12-1/4 inches (31.0 cm)Ed, EA III...
Lot 72115
Auction 5138
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French/American, 1930-2002) Double-profile Candelabra, Circa 1985 Glazed and painted ceramic 13
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French/American, 1930-2002)Double-profile Candelabra, Circa 1985Glazed and painted ceramic13...
Lot 72270
Auction 5172
Saturday, May 31, 2014
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French/American, 1930-2002) Untitled (from Eight by Eight to Celebrate the Temporary Contemporary)...
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE (French/American, 1930-2002)Untitled (from Eight by Eight to Celebrate the Temporary Contemporary)...
Lot 62966
Auction 5144
Monday, October 7, 2013

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