CHLOE FOUSSIANES | DATE 6/11/2015
A female artist had to be fearless to make a name for herself in the misogynistic 60s—and French sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) was most definitely fearless. From the 50s to the early 2000s, de Saint Phalle embraced what made others nervous; often, the female body itself.
ABOVE: Per Olof Ultvedt, Robert Rauschenberg, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, Dylaby, Amsterdam, 1962. Photograph by Christer Stromholm.
Instead of shying away from a female perspective, throughout her career Saint Phalle wisely embraced the aspects of her work and outsized persona which would most stand out among her male counterparts. Her works celebrate the curvy, idiosyncratic female form; a welcome respite from the usual objectification.
ABOVE: "Nana Millefiori" (1970).
De Saint Phalle is given her due in La Fabrica's stunning new monograph, conceived as the accompaniment to her recent retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Seductively designed with a beautifully printed cover and die-cut jacket, it contains a wealth of new scholarship, organized roughly chronologically, allowing the reader to follow the artist's life and art as they evolved.
ABOVE: De Saint Phalle in the course of a shooting session at the Impasse Ronsin, June 15, 1961. Photograph by Shunk-Kender.
The texts are complemented by images of de Saint Phalle's paintings, sculpture and films. Her three dimensional work, in particular, translates well through photography. Bright colors and organic contours together create artworks imbued with an uncommon sense of life—the kind of art that seems to be in motion even as it sits still.
ABOVE: "Black Dancing Nana (Big Black Dancer) "(1968).
Altogether, Niki de Saint Phalle provides an empowering portrait of an artist, proto-feminist and overall Modernist icon.
ABOVE: De Saint Phalle working on "Cécille" (1963). Photograph by Max F. Chifelle.
LA FáBRICA/GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM BILBAO
Hbk, 10 x 11.75 in. / 368 pgs / illustrated throughout.
$65.00 free shipping