THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS MY PUBLIC
Polyurethane, resin, metal base and frame, abalone shells, stones, and colored mirror fragments
335 × 213 × 140 cm
Niki Charitable Art Foundation, Santee, USA
© Niki Charitable Art Foundation, Santee, USA
Photo: © NCAF/Thomas Marlow. Exhibition view, Niki in the Garden, Garfield Park Conservatory, 2007
“Facing Park Güell I felt chills, flashes of lightning. I was shaking all over. That day my fate was clear: one day I, too, in my own way, would make a fantastical garden.”
In the eyes of Niki de Saint Phalle, one of the purposes of creation is to bring joy, humor, and color into life. The large architectural projects that she completed starting in the late 1960s are part of this vision of art; able to speak to everyone and make people happy. In her most important project, the Tarot Garden in Italy, Saint Phalle became one of the few artists to tackle such a complex and ambitious public work of art, which was entirely self-financed through the sale of related products and editions. Each of her pieces offers several levels of interpretation, yet its complexity is often omitted in favor of a more decorative point of view. To go beyond it is to recognize an oeuvre that almost always feeds on questioning social issues.. Niki de Saint Phalle was one of the first artists to address the issue of race and to advocate for civil rights, and then multiculturalism, in America. She was also one of the first, in the 1980s, to use her art to raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the AIDS epidemic.