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Art as a cure against social conventions: Niki de Saint Phalle

Art as a cure against social conventions: Niki de Saint Phalle

by Giulia De Sanctis

Mythology, violence, private and social worries, these are the main themes of the artistic poetry of Niki de Saint Phalle, a creative genius and unconventional. Born into a family of bankers, she spent her childhood in New York and then returned - in her early twenties - to Europe, falling in love with the French and Spanish museums' masterpieces, in particular the works of Antoni Gaudì. Affected by a nervous breakdown, the young Niki understands the therapeutic value of painting, a cure against social conventions, a mean to express her inner restlessness: from this moment on, the artist dedicates herself completely to art. In the Sixties Niki began to explore new artistic languages, eventually defining the iconographic range of her themes and becoming famous thanks to Tiri: a series of actions during which the audience or the artist herself shoot with a rifle on plaster reliefs by exploding bags of color. On the wave of the feminist movement, the talented artist explores the ways of representation of the female universe by creating polychrome sculptures, representing large and formous womanly figures, the Nanas. To the artist is fundamental the collaboration with the sculptor Jean Tinguely, met thanks to her approach to the Nouveau Réalisme movement and which she married in 1971 and with whom she created exceptional and original works such as the Stravinsky fountain in Paris and the Tarot Garden in Capalbio, in the province of Grosseto.

The construction of the Garden took 17 years and represents the 22 cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot in cyclopean sculptures 12/15 meters high, covered with mosaics in mirror, precious glass and ceramics; some works have been made by other artists, such as ceramic benches placed outside the garden, iron and ceramic chairs inside the empress and the furniture of the ticket office. The frescoes inside the magician are by the painter Alan Davie, the sculpture inside the priestess construction is made by Marina Karella, while the construction of the ticket office was entrusted to the architect Mario Botta. Woman and artist, involved in a path of deep and complex growth at the same time, Niki De Saint Phalle has always maintained a special bond with the world of childhood, trying to entertain and involve children with his works. This sensitivity makes her, in the eyes of most people, an artist with a multifaceted soul fought between her being a child and a woman.

After graduating from language high school, love for art led Giulia De Sanctis (Turin, 1998) to obtain Communication and Enhancement of Artistic Heritage’ degree at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin. She collaborated with art galleries in Turin as an assistant, dealing with the cataloging of the works, the preparation of exhibitions and the press office. She collaborates actively with various magazines and web publications of the art sector.