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Niki de Saint Phalle Biography


French artist Niki de Saint Phalle is best known for her large, colorful sculptures of curvaceous women. Her work was often made in collaboration with her husband, Jean Tinguely, who incorporated mechanical, moving elements into her pieces. Niki de Saint Phalle’s love of colour came through in her painting as well as her sculpture, but her most famous piece has to be a series of sculptures for the fountain in Place Igor Stravinsky, Paris. The sculptures, which include a bird, an elephant and a heart, rotate continually and many spurt water. The fountain has the perfect backdrop as it is along one side of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris’s modern art museum.

Niki de Saint Phalle is associated with nouveau realismé, meaning ‘new realism’, which began as a counterpoint to pop art. The exuberance of de Saint Phalle also bears witness to the work of Gaudi, who she regularly drew inspiration from. Nowhere is this more evident than in the glorious Tarot Garden, a sculpture park in Tuscany filled with giant figures. Each sculpture can be walked around, in and through, and is covered in mosaic tiles. One even became a temporary house for de Niki Saint Phalle during the Garden’s construction. After her death in 2002, the Garden remains as the peak point in Niki de Saint Phalle’s career.

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