Niki De Saint Phalle
Artwork by Niki de Saint Phalle. Edited by Ulrich Krempel. Text by Ronald Clark, Pierre Lejeune.
The Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover are among the most beautiful parks in Germany. Their baroque section, the Grosser Garden, was begun in 1666 and constitutes one of the most important baroque grounds in Europe. The northwestern part of this floral treasure houses a Grotto, built in 1676, comprised of three rooms, originally decorated with mussels, crystals, glass and minerals, which served as a place of enchantment and as a cool retreat on hot days. Sadly, the Grotto's decorations were removed as early as the eighteenth century, and the building became nothing but a storeroom. Restored for Expo 2000, the inside of the grotto was newly designed according to plans by Niki de Saint Phalle, a project that turned out to be the last completed by the artist, who died in the spring of 2002. The Grotto's octagonal middle room and two other rooms were splendidly decorated with mosaics made from colored glass and mirrors, and with pebbles and numerous painted sculptures made of fiberglass. The spiral-shaped arrangement of ornaments around the column in the entrance hall is meant to symbolize spirituality, the mirrored western room signifies day and life, and the blue eastern room represents night and the cosmos.