Niki de Saint Phalle
Guy Lochhead, 15/09/12
French artist who operated on the border between outsider and insider art. Emigrating to America at an early age, she rebelled against her family’s controlling, conservative values and ran away, became a model, married young and had a baby. She painted in her spare time. She found herself in the ordinary situation that she had been trying to escape and had a breakdown. She was encouraged to pursue her painting as therapy. Her style was naive, and influenced by Gaudi’s architecture, which she’d seen on a modelling trip to Spain. She moved to Paris with her family in the mid-50s and continued to develop her practice. She made a series of ‘shooting paintings’, in which bags of paint were shot by various artists. She became pre-occupied with images of violence. At some point in the early-60s she left her husband. Her work now became about female roles. She began making the figures that she is now best known for – voluptuous, ecstatically colourful women and monstrous sculptures. Her every-women were lablled ‘Nanas’. Inspired by other “visionary environments”, she constructed her ‘Giardino dei Tarocchi’ between 1979 and 1998 – a huge Tarot-themed sculpture garden. Her work is exhibited outside and in museums all over Europe and North America. I love Saint Phalle’s work, and want to include it. Her Nanas are fantastic, joyful expressions of femininity that seem to me like modern continuations of the ancient Venus figurines. I love the interactivity of her big sculptural works, and feel like that and their colours would really appeal to children. So stoked. I will include a Nana character, as well as some design (perhaps a playground?) that obviously references her aesthetic. Outside of the blog, I’m definitely going to do some art lessons based around her work…

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