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Niki de Saint Phalle ( 1930 - 2002 )


Musée de Arts décoratifs de Paris
Polychrome polyester resin by "R.Haligon plastique d'art"(stamped seal).
H : 74 cm, L : 80 cm, D : 60 cm
Table (with vase) and stool (H. 49 cm; L. 38 cm; P. 31 cm) in painted polyester, the table numbered "16/20", signed "Niki" (stamped seal).
Circa : 1980



An icon of modern art and a real phenomenon, Niki de Saint Phalle is a Swiss self-taught artist, from the family of the great bankers of the same name. Painter, artist and sculptor, she began her career with a first gouache drawing exhibition in Switzerland in 1956. She is very quickly integrated into the group of Pierre Restany’s Nouveaux Réalistes (César, Arman, Klein, Spoerri etc). She is also known for having developed the art of Performance since 1961, through her “shots”, her way of conjuring an almost incestuous paternal relationship that will mark her throughout her life.
The study of volume and the richness of colors, as well as the playful aspect are at the center of her research, like the realization of her «Nanas», emblematic of his work. Although close to abstraction, Niki de St Phalle exploits the plasticity of certain motives, such as the snake, which she transposes into different types of works. The 1960s marked the culmination of her international career, alongside her husband, the artist Jean Tinguely, with whom she collaborated in the design of parks with monumental pieces, such as the Jardin des Tarots in Tuscany after 1979. For this one, it is inspired by the Guëll Park of Barcelona, imagined by Antonio Gaudí, but also the reviving gardens of Bomarzo, commissioned in the 16th century.

The interest for her work is immediate and lasting and she will continue period on period, success on success, developing a totally original sculpture of color and shape combine and blend in an inter-independent way: the chicks, snakes, figures dancing in the sky and fantastic animals will constitute a world, a world of life and cheerfulness, unique in the 20th century. With her husband she will realize in 1983, at the request of Mitterrand the Stravinsky Fountain, in front of the Beaubourg center.
She died in 2002, following the realization of her works in resins, pleating and inhalation; very generous, she supported several causes.


But, one of the most original aspects of her work is undoubtedly her furniture, which she will develop in a confidential manner. Niki de St Phalle became interested in it when she received the commission for the furniture from the set for the films “Un rêve plus longue que la nuit” and “The Travelling Companion” in 1977. This films will not be made, but Niki will keep the drawings of the furniture, which she chose to produce in the 80s, to finance the Jardin des Tarots.

Purely aesthetic objects, which can hardly be used, this type of work reproduces the codes of her artistic identity: dynamic, moving forms with shimmering hues, which leave the imagination free while retaining certain figurative elements. The choice of the material, the polyester is significant. This type of resin indeed magnifies the colors with a shiny appearance. The French Maison Haligon, which is still active, is a world-renowned specialist of this technic.


The Decorative Arts Museum of Paris has in its collections one example of the table (inv. FNAC 1978.2.1) separated from the vase with a snake (inv. FNAC 1978.2.2) on the top, and also one example of the stool (inv. FNAC 1978.3).


Niki de Saint Phalle