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Niki de Saint Phalle at MoMA PS1

Niki de Saint Phalle, ‘La femme et L’oiseau fontaine’, 1967-1988. (Courtesy Niki Charitable Art Foundation)

This spring, there are two venues in the City where you can discover the works of the legendary French-American artist, painter, sculptor and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle:

Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life, at MoMA PS1 (March 11 – September 6) 

Niki de Saint Phalle's works come to New York for their very first museum exhibition in the City at MoMA PS1. On view from March 11 to September 6, 2021, Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life, organized by Ruba Katrib, Curator, with Josephine Graf, Assistant Curator, features over 200 works created from the mid-1960s until the artist's death, including sculptures, prints, drawings, jewelry, films and archival materials

The exhibition highlights Saint Phalle's interdisciplinary approach, and displays her engagement with various social and political issues: it focuses on works she created in an attempt to transform society, environments and individuals. A central feature of the exhibition includes an examination of her large-scale outdoor sculptures, such as Le rêve de l'oiseau (1968-71), her children's playgrounds and playhouses Golem (1971-72) and Le Dragon de Knokke (1973-75), through the models that she made in preparation, as well as archival materials which are being presented for the first time at MoMA PS1. Finally, Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life presents models, photographs, and drawings of her magnus opus, Tarot Garden, the sculpture park built in Tuscany by Saint Phalle in the late 1970s. 


Joy Revolution, at Salon 94 (March 20 – April 24)  

Salon 94 is inaugurating their new building on 3 East 89th Street with a major exhibition of works by Niki de Saint Phalle, titled Joy Revolution, from March 20 to April 24. Gathering important historical works from the Niki Charitable Art Foundation, alongside private collections, the exhibition ranges from rare maquettes to classic monumental Nanas, works on paper, and archival film, and includes rarely-seen, late mechanical paintings and mosaic furniture. This exhibition was organized by Fabienne Stephan of Salon 94 alongside the Niki Charitable Art Foundation, with an extensive visual reader written by independent curator Alison M Gingeras. 

Joy Revolution celebrates the artist's philosophy of radical joy, her ideal vision of an egalitarian matriarchal society in the political and historical context of her work. A room of the exhibition, among others, is dedicated to her Nanas, in a mise-en-scène that pays homage to their original scenography and replicated the utopic Garden that conveys Saint Phalle's politics. Another gallery focuses on the intertwining of movement and sculpture in her work, with a film documenting the 1966 avant-garde ballet L'Eloge de la Folie, which featured several Nanas

In conversation with the MoMA PS1 exhibition, Joy Revolution displays magnificent miniature sculptures and maquettes of Saint Phalle's most ambitious structures for Tarot Garden. A good reason to see both exhibitions!

About Niki de Saint Phalle: 

Born in 1930 in France, Niki de Saint Phalle moved to the USA in 1933 and spent her childhood and youth in New York City. At the age of 22, in 1952, Saint Phalle moved back to Paris and became immersed in French and expatriate artistic communities. Throughout her life, Saint Phalle's bi-cultural upbringing transpired in her work—the themes and forms that she pioneered we equally informed by the French and American culture and politics. While never formally trained as an artist, Saint Phalle independently forged her unique practice, which started with a therapeutic purpose, in the late 1950s. She was the only female member of the Nouveau Réalisme group which included Tinguely, Arman, Christo, and Yves Klein, among others. Her breakout exhibition in 1961 at Galerie J in Paris featured her iconic "Shooting Paintings". That same year, her work was included in the exhibition The Art of Assemblage at the MoMA, New York. By the mid-1960s, Saint Phalle worked less frequently on paintings, choosing instead to begin on a new sculptural series titled the Nanas. Even during her decades living and working in France, Saint Phalle regularly showed her work in the US. Her late projects took on a larger dimension, with the entirely self-funded Tarot Garden sculpture park in Tuscany, which she started building in 1979 until her death. In 1994, she moved to California where she lived until her death in 2002. 

About MoMA PS1: 

MoMA PS1 champions how art and artists are at the intersection of the social, cultural and political issues of their time. Providing audiences with the agency to ask questions, access to knowledge, and a forum for public debate, PS1 has offered insight into artists' diverse worldviews for more than 40 years. Founded in 1976 by Alanna Heiss, the institution was a defining force in the alternative space movement in New York City, transforming a nineteenth-century public schoolhouse in Long Island City into a site for artistic experimentation and creativity. PS1 has been a member of New York's Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) since 1982 and affiliated with The Museum of Modern Art since 2000. 

About Salon 94:  

A gallery space built within the family home of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Salon 94 offers an alternative to conventional white box galleries and an opportunity for visitors to experience artworks and performances in a furnished, inhabited space. Since its creation in 2002, the mission of Salon 94 has grown from exhibiting special projects by emerging and renowned artists alike to representing artists such as Marilyn Minter, Lorna Simpson and Aida Ruilova. A satellite exhibition space debuted in September 2007 with sculptural work by Huma Bhabha. In 2010, a third exhibition space opened on the Bowery with a show of Richard Prince's T-Shirt paintings. Located steps from the New Museum in New York's Lower East Side, both galleries strive to provide more accessibility to visitors to the developing downtown art scene. A new space, inaugurated by the exhibition Joy Revolution, is now open on 3 East 89th Street.