Niki de Saint Phalle



I went to see Niki de Saint Phalle’s exhibition in Taidehalli, Helsinki.

Niki de Saint Phalle was born in 1930 in France. Her father was French banker and mother was American. Family moved to USA in 1933. As a teenager Saint Phalle worked as a fashion model and was on the cover of Life and French Vogue. At eighteen years old Saint Phalle married Harry Mathews and they got their first child in in 1951. Saint Phalle started to paint and it was therapy to her because she was raped by her father when she was only 11.

In 1955 Saint Phalle moved in Majorca, Spain, where her son was born. She was deeply affected by the works of Antonio Gaudi. Soon the family moved to Paris. Saint Phalle’s first exhibition was held in 1956 in Switzerland, where she presented naive style old paintings. In early 1960s Saint Phalle left her first husband.

Saint Phalle started to do shooting artworks, “Shots”, where she shot with gun paint bags and splashing paint created art. After Shots Saint Phalle did works with various roles of women, such as brides and mothers giving birth. They were primarily made of plaster over a wire framework and plastic toys, then painted all white or other color. In 1965 Saint Phalle started to do woman figures what she called Nanas. She also started to do graphic works with writings. In 1971, Saint Phalle and her collaborator Jean Tingueli married.

From 1979 Saint Phalle worked for sculpture park in Italy for nearly 20 years. It was inspired by Gaudi and the works were about Tarot cards. Park was opened in 1998. Saint Phalle moved to California in 1994, where she died to emphysema in 2002.

Saint Phalle decided early to become a heroine and to do some grand. Exhibition in Taidehalli showed that, big sculptures with humor and artworks with social messages to speak out in our times too. Variety of works in exhibition was wide.

Niki de Saint Phalle: 20th of August 2016 – 2oth November 2016 in Taidehalli.
Taidehalli’s website:
You can check more photos I took here: