Niki de Saint Phalle (French, 1930–2002), born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, was a female sculptor and painter, famed for her joyful representations of women and large fantastical sculptures. Due to her family’s economic circumstances, she moved to New York City as a young girl, where she spent the next 20 years of her life. After a failed early marriage, Saint Phalle turned to painting and, in 1961, began to work alongside Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, whom she married a decade later. Her 1960s Tirs, or “Shots,” created by shooting a .22 caliber rifle at a plaster relief containing hidden reservoirs of paint, quickly earned her international fame. In 1965, Saint Phalle developed the voluptuous female form of the Nana, French slang for “woman,” which led to the commission of the vast sculpture, She: a Cathedral for the Modern Museet in Stockholm. As she worked on brightly painted sculptures of animals and human figures, Saint Phalle conceived the idea for her Tarot Garden, a sculpture park inspired by Gaudí’s Parc Güell. After two decades of work, the garden of monumental sculpture and whimsical architecture opened in Tuscany in 1998. Saint Phalle is also celebrated for her work on AIDS awareness; after an assistant contracted the disease and died of it, Saint Phalle illustrated, Aids, You Can’t Catch it Holding Hands.

Timeline

1930
Born Catherine Marie-Agnes Fal de Saint Phalle in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
1937
Moved with her family to New York, NY
1948–1950
Worked as fashion model for Vogue, Life, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, and other French and American magazines
1952
Moved to Paris, France
1954
Met American painter Hugh Weiss who became a friend and mentor
1971
Married Jean Tinguely
2002
Died in San Diego, CA

Exhibitions

2012–2013
Niki de Saint Phalle – Eine Retrospektive – Skulpturen, Objekte und Arbeiten auf Papier, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld, Germany (solo)
2011
Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
2009–2010
Retrospective, Museum of the Rome Foundation, Rome, Italy (solo)
2008–2009
Les boîtes à secrets de Niki, Musée en Herbe, Paris, France (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle, Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Évora, Portugal (solo)
2008
Niki de Saint Phalle, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (solo)
2007
Niki de Saint Phalle, Fischerplatz Galerie, Ulm, Germany (solo)
2006
Niki de Saint Phalle: a retrospective, The Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan (solo)
2005
Niki de Saint Phalle: Grafik und Objekte, Galerie am Bom, Wetzlar, Germany (solo)
2004
Niki de Saint Phalle, Kunsthalle Nurnberg, Nuremberg, Germany (solo)
2003
Niki de Saint Phalle, Ernst Museum Budapest, Budapest, Hungary (solo)
2002
Niki de St. Phalle - Grande retrospective, Musee d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain de Nice, Nice, France (solo)
1999
Traces, Galerie JGM, Paris, France
1998
Niki de Saint Phalle, Galerie Delaive, Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle – Céramiques et mosaïques, Galerie Bonnier, Geneva, Switzerland (solo)
1997
Made in France, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France
Niki de Saint Phalle + Jean Tinguely, Kunst Raum, Bayreuth, Germany (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle, Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, Switzerland (solo)
1996
Niki de Saint Phalle: Graphik und Skulpturen, Kunstkabinett, Regensburg, Germany;Galerie Schönenberger, Kirchberg, Germany; Galerie Wild, Frankfurt, Germany (solo)
1995
Niki de Saint Phalle: Skulpturen, Gouachen, Serigraphie, Lithographien, Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, Switzerland (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota, Bogota, Colombia;Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil;Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina;Sala de Exposiciones Edificio CTC, Santiago de Chile, Chili;Mingei International Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA;Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico;Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas Sofia Imber, Caracas, Venezuela (solo)
1994
Niki de Saint Phalle: Tableaux éclatés + sculptures, Maxwell Davidson Gallery & James Goodman Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1992–1993
Retrospective, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle in Bonn, Germany; Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris, France;Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Fribourg, Switzerland (solo)
1992
Niki de Saint Phalle: Her life and art, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, Scotland (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: L'invitation au musée, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (solo)
1991
Niki de Saint Phalle: Sculptures, Hokin Gallery, Palm Beach, FL (solo)
1990
Niki de Saint Phalle: Tirs ... et autres révoltes 1961–1964, JGM. Galerie and Galerie de France, Paris, France (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: Last Night I Had a Dream, Guy Pieters Gallery, Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium (solo)
1989
Niki de Saint Phalle: Oeuvres des années 80, Galerie de France and JGM. Galerie, Paris, France (solo)
1987
Niki de Saint Phalle: Oeuvres récentes, Galerie Bonnier, Geneva, Switzerland (solo)
1986
Retrospective, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (solo)
1985
Nouveau Realisme and Pop Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Niki de Saint Phalle 1962–1980: Retrospektive, Galerie Klaus Littmann, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
1983
Niki de Saint Phalle: Sculptures et lithographies, Galerie Esperanza, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (solo)
1982
Niki de Saint Phalle, Space Niki, Tokyo, japan (solo)
1981
Niki de Saint Phalle, Galerie Samy Kinge, Paris, France (solo)
1980
Retrospective, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg, Germany;Neue Galerie, Linz, Austria; Nuremberg Kunsthalle, Nuremberg, Germany; Sweden, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: Werke 1960-1980, Galerie Bischofberger, Zürich, Switzerland (solo)
1979
Niki de Saint Phalle, Watari Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: Monumental Projects, Maquettes and Photographs, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York, NY;Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH;Mandeville Art Gallery, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA;Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA (solo)
1977
Paris, New York: Unalbum, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France
1976
Niki de Saint-Phalles sculpturer, Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark (solo)
1975
Niki de Saint Phalle: Silkscreens, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1974
Niki de Saint Phalle: Projets et réalisations d'architecture, , Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris, France (solo)
1972
Niki de Saint Phalle: Les funérailles du père, Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris, France (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: Niki avant les Nanas, oeuvres de 1963 et 1964, Galerie Bonnier, Geneva, Switzerland (solo)
1971
Niki de Saint Phalle: Serigraphien und kleine Skulpturen, Kammerkunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: "The Devouring Mothers" and Other Sculptures, Galerie Espace, Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo)
1970
Niki de Saint Phalle: Le Rêve de Diane, Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris, France (solo)
Les Nanas, Pavillon Baltard, Les Halles, Paris, France; Galerie Felix Handschin, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: Nana Power, La Hune, Paris, France (solo)
1969
Plastiken, Zeichnungen und Graphiken von Niki de Saint Phalle, Galerie Stangl, Munich, Germany (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle, Kunstmüseum, Lucerne, Switzerland (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle: Nana fontaine, Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Niki de Saint Phalle, Hanover Gallery, London, UK (solo)
1968
Flash Niki de Saint Phalle: Hier soir j'ai fait un rêve, Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris, France (solo)
1967
Les Nanas au Pouvoir, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (solo)
Papier-Mâché Animals in a Zoo, Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1966
Niki de Saint Phalle, Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
L'European Artist and the Figure, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1965
Niki de Saint Phalle, Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1964
Mythologies Quotidiennes, Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris, France
Niki de Saint Phalle, Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Geneva, Switzerland (solo)
1962
Action de tir, Everett Ellin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1961
Le Nouveau Réalisme Paris et NY, Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, France
Niki de Saint Phalle, Køpcke Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark (solo)
1956
Niki Mathews New York Gemälde, Gouachen, Galerie Restaurant Gotthard, St. Gallen, Switerland (solo)

Public Collections

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Musée d'Art Contemporain (MAC), Marseille, France
Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC), Nice, France
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Franc
Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne (MNAM) / Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Musée des Arts Decoratif, Paris, France
Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Stedeijk Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de la Ville de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan

Performances

Collaborate with Jean Tinguely in the realization of a monumental sculpture in Milly-the-Forest, France
The Nanas Conquer the City, permanent installation of of three monumental nanas in the center of the town of Hanover, Germany
Realised project with Jean Tinguely la Fontaine Stravinsky, next to the Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France
Installation of a monumental sculpture Sun God to the University of Calfornia, San Diego, CA