“Niki de Saint Phalle” exhibition at Schirn is in our opinion alluring, captivating and a beautiful illustration of the artists career.  A career that was prematurely brought to an end by emphysema which almost certainly was a result of her prolific use of toxic materials in many of her works.

The Schirn takes you on a journey through the evolution of the artist and thus the woman behind the ‘artist’.  De Saint Phalle was self taught artist and grappled with different ways of self expression experimenting with a variety of materials and techniques.  One could perhaps argue in attempt to purge and self heal.

Who is Niki de Saint Phalle?

Saint Phalle is one of the late twentieth century’s great creative personalities she bravely forged the way for feminism. Undoubtedly a long long time before it was in vogue to do or the ‘me too’ movement was born.

Born near Paris in 1930, to a French father and an American mother.  However, after her father’s finance company failed they moved to America.  And whilst de Saint Phalle came from a background of privilege this could not protect her from trauma and violence.  Sexually assaulted by her father at age 11 he is often depicted in her works as dragon or reptile and forms the object of much of her anger and rage.

She describes herself as a devouring mother. Devouring a variety of influences from Giotto, early Siennese paintings, Douanier Rousseau, Mexican and Indian temples, to Picasso and Bosch and Arcimboldo.  And after feasting and absorbing the work of all these great influences the child that is born is Niki.

Niki de saint Phalle
Niki de saint Phalle
Niki de saint Phalle

The Exhibition

The Schirn presents a comprehensive exhibition exhibiting around 100 of the artists work and gives and overview of all the phases of her career which spanned five decades.  The evolution of the artist is both dramatic and simultaneously subtle.  Moving from destruction, anger and often monochromatic to creation on an enormous scale, playful and kaleidoscopic.

And whilst it was the Nanas that gained her attention and fame, her earlier works are as important and give an insight into the artists journey and creative process.

The exhibition runs until MAY 21st and we highly recommend you make your way to see it before it ends.

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