Niki de Saint Phalle
26 September 2001 – 17 February 2002
For the very first time, the work of Niki de Saint Phalle returns to the museum devoted to Jean Tinguely, her artistic companion, husband and lover. Entitled simply “Niki de Saint Phalle”, the exhibition is based on a major donation which the French-American artist presented to the Sprengel Museum Hanover last autumn. It covers every phase of her highly varied oeuvre, with special emphasis on the artist’s largely unknown early work. After her first encounter with Tinguely in Paris in 1956, Niki de Saint Phalle initially made a name for herself amongst the “Nouveaux Réalistes” with her famous “Shooting pictures”. These were followed by her “Brides” and, in particular, by her “Nanas”. Indeed, these latter virtually became her trademark.
Before these periods, however, two other work groups await discovery. Her oils painted between 1953 and 1958 resemble outside “Art Brut“ creations and, in them, the artist is already revealing her entire artistic universe. In the material reliefs that followed between 1959 and 1961, Niki de Saint Phalle for the first time explored the principles of coincidence and the “assemblage” technique which together conjure up the object collages that went on to shape the form of her entire life’s work.
The years devoted to her “Tarot Garden” in Tuscany, and the work group of “Totems” recently created in California which concludes the exhibition, bring the artist back to her early creative tools.
The exhibition is enhanced by documents and films, drawings dedicated to Jean Tinguely and jointly devised and executed “Collaborations”. The comprehensive catalogue has been published by the Hatje Cantz Verlag in conjunction with the Sprengel Museum Hanover and has been supplemented for the Basel exhibition.