Niki de Saint Phalle “Quintessential Works” on view Sept 10 – Oct 31
September 10 @ 10:00 AM - October 31 @ 6:00 PMFree
NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE: QUINTESSENTIAL WORKS is a whimsical exhibition of sculpture and works on paper that captures the essence of Saint Phalle’s uplifted spirit later in life, through her joyful and brightly colored works. The gallery will offer extended viewing hours on Thursday evenings until 8pm.
Considered one of the most preeminent female artists of the 20th Century, Saint Phalle worked in an array of sizes and mediums, from larger-than-life dancing Nanas to tabletop vases to hand colored works on paper. While her playful creativity and skillful hand is evident throughout, QUINTESSENTIAL WORKS moves beyond the joyful and beautiful. It represents her art as a powerful outlet of expression exploring complex emotions and redefining women’s roles and bodies.
The exhibition reveals work from Saint Phalle’s later years, focusing on two prominent, large-scale sculptures that showcase the artist’s enormous talent. One such work, Dawn (Bleue) (1993), illustrates the liberating dance of a sumptuous and feminine figure. Bathed in bright, rich colors, the sculpture’s external qualities are a sharp dichotomy to the underlying fear and frustration Saint Phalle experienced in the ongoing battle for women’s equality.
Another exemplary sculpture retaining Saint Phalle’s artistic approach is Le Banc (1989). Here the artist veers from the feminine to depict a man reading a Greek newspaper, his dog at his side. While the scene is simplistic and ordinary, she elevates it to extraordinary by using mirror plates to create dazzling light play, a signature feature used in many of her later sculptures. Other versions of this work can be seen at the Benessee House in Naoshima, Japan, and inside Tinguely’s Le Cyclop in Milly-la-Forêt, France.
Throughout her career, Saint Phalle developed a recognizable visual language that flowed seamlessly into small sculptures and works on paper. QUINTESSENTIAL WORKS includes these highlights with sculptures such as Nana Vase (1984), a pint-sized version of her curvaceous, vivid forms; and The Lovers (You and Me or Adam and Eve) (1997), a playful yet foreboding interpretation of contemporary relationships.
Niki de Saint Phalle’s art is eclectic and complicated, brave and outspoken. It reveals the unbridled ruminations and opinions of her multifaceted past and transforms them into celebrations of love, life and pure happiness. This transformation reminds us that her work does not simply stand alone, it becomes part of a larger dialogue she created for us to enjoy.
A self-taught sculptor, painter and filmmaker, Niki de Saint Phalle’s mark on art history continues to have an extraordinary dimension. Her work is represented in numerous museums and public collections around the world. In 2000, she received the Praemium Imperiale in Japan, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for the art world. In 2014, the Grand Palais in Paris exhibited a major restropective of her work that travelled to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, where it currently resides. Niki de Saint Phalle died at the age of 71 in La Jolla, California in 2002.