The New Yorker recently had an article that highlighted the work of french painter, sculptor, and filmaker Niki de Saint Phalle and I have fallen in love! Niki de Saint was born in the 1930's and worked in a variety of mediums but her work was always loud and usually celebrated the female spirit and form. She had a tumultuous childhood and after suffering from a nervous breakdown in her early 20's she was institutionalized. While she was institutionalized she was encourage to paint which she claimed is what 'saved' her. She was determined to be an artist and although she had no formal training she quickly made a name for herself with her Shooting Paintings. She would put objects and bags of bright colored paint on giant boards and then cover the whole thing with white plaster; she would then invite people to watch as she would use a shot gun to shoot at the pieces. When she would hit the art the bags of paint would explode creating a river of multicolored paint and fragments of objects. These acts were are very early form of performance art.
|Niki de Saint making a Shooting Painting|
Niki de Saint also used her work to explore the female figure in relation to the postion of women in society, her most noted exploration of these themes is her giant "Nana" instillation. With the help of the artist Jean Tinguely she constructed a huge hollow Nana that patrons could enter though a door sized vagina.
Her life's work, however, was a huge sculpture garden that she erected in a small community in Tuscany. The garden was based off of the tarot deck and took about 20 years to complete! It's still there and I am dying to visit it!