Nearly a week since my day trip to ARKEN Museum of Modern Art 20 min train journey south of Copenhagen.
My goal for my day trip was to meet the Danish girl Gerda Wegener, but I also got a chance to meet a very exciting French girl, Niki de Saint Phalle. I didn’t know much about her neither, more than many years ago I used her fragrance. Which I bought mostly because of the beautiful bottle.
Arken is having a big exhibition just now many of her pieces and some of them are massive. They also have some of her eight totem sculptures from Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is a sculpture garden located in Escondido, California. It is one of her last works, measuring between 11 and 21 feet (about 3,5 meter) tall.
Niki de Saint Phalle is best known for her colorful and round Colored Goddesses (Nanas), his shooting paintings, and the spectacular exhibition SHE – a cathedral at the Moderna Museet in 1966.
Niki de Saint-Phalle taught herself painting and rose to artistic prominence through her colorful monumental outdoor sculptures of extravagantly voluptuous female figures.
Niki is born Catherine Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle in October 1930 in France. Her father is French, her mother American. She is the second of five children of a wealthy family who lose their business and fortune in the stock market collapse.
As a young woman, Niki’s first career is as a fashion model, with photographs appearing in Vogue and Life. At 18, she elopes with childhood friend Harry Mathews.
In 1950, Niki begins making her first paintings while her husband studies music at Harvard University.
A couple of years later hospitalized for a nervous breakdown, Niki finds that painting helps her to overcome this crisis and decides to give up acting and become an artist.
After her recovery, Niki and Harry briefly return to Paris, where she is encouraged by other artists to continue painting in her unique self-taught style.In Spain, Niki discovers the work of Antonio Gaudí and is deeply affected, especially by Park Güell in Barcelona, which plants the idea to create her own sculpture garden.
Niki makes her first Nanas in 1965, archetypal female figures which are updated versions of “Every(wo)man.” (The word “nana” is French for “dame” or “chick.”)
1966, Niki works on Hon exhibition (Swedish for “she”) for the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The outer form of Hon is a building-size giant reclining Nana with an interior environment entered from between her legs. The curious museum visitors entered through Nana’s womb to wander around inside her 28-meter long body.
This piece garners worldwide attention and intensifies her desire to build her own sculpture garden.
During her work with the Nanas, she is exposed to the toxic fumes of polyester resin. This and other materials used in her work cause severe damage to her lungs, resulting in recurrent health problems.
In 1979, she acquired some land in Garavicchio, Tuscany, about 100 km northwest of Rome along the coast.
The garden, called Giardino dei Tarocchi in Italian, contains sculptures of the symbols found on Tarot cards. The garden took many years, and a considerable sum of money, to complete. It opened in 1998, after nearly 20 years of work.
Niki dies in May 2002, at the age of 71 in La Jolla, California.
Her Nanas makes you smile … but what amazed me most were her sculptures made out of pieces of glass, mirrors, and mosaic. Niki’s mad and wonderful art makes our world today a lot more colorful and fun. My meeting with Niki was terrific.
“”I could do whatever I wanted,
whether people liked it or not”
Niki de St. Phalle