The exhibition is organized by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and la Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais with the participation of Niki Charitable Art Foundation.Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002) is one of the most renowned artists from the mid-twentieth century. Born Catherine Marie-Agnes Fal de Saint Phalle, she was known as Niki de Saint Phalle. Throughout her prolific career, Saint Phalle created a complex body of work in various mediums which was deeply embedded with socio-political issues. With themes ranging from joyful to profound to intellectual, the paradoxical nature of her work has yet to be fully explored. She was one of the first women to receive international acclaim and recognition during her lifetime, as well as to successfully create a public persona. Much like Warhol did, Saint Phalle was able to use the media to skillfully guide the reception of her work.
Without any formal art training, Niki de Saint Phalle took her inspiration from Gaudí, Dubuffet, and Pollock to invent, in the late 1950s, a singular world independent of any trend or art movement. Her entire career is sublimated by great themes and myths, which later articulated her entire oeuvre. The joyous, colorful side of her work is well known but its violence, commitment, and radical stands have been forgotten. And this is equally true of her audacious performances, the political and feminist content of her work, and her ambitious public sculptures.This retrospective, the first major exhibition devoted to Niki de Saint Phalle in twenty years, presents a multifaceted artist, at once a painter, assembly artist, sculptor, printmaker, performer, and experimental filmmaker, and takes a profoundly new look at her work. Over 200 works and archival documents, many unpublished, are set out in over 2,000 square meters, organized by chronology and theme, and punctuated by screens showing the artist talking about her work.
Niki de Saint Phalle
Long Live Love (Vive l'Amour), 1990
Felt-pen and gouache on Bristol paper
45 x 55 cm
Niki Charitable Art Foudation, Santee, CA; USA
© 2014, Niki Charitable Art Foundation, VEGAP, Bilbao
Photo: Ed Kessler