26. April - 29. January 2017 Sprengel Museum Hannover


A somewhat different Niki de Saint Phalle in Hannover

Although she created a diverse portfolio of works, her so called Nanas are the objects mostly connected to her art. The colorful Nana figures of the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle characterize numerous public places in Europe with their stout and oversized forms. The artist only started dedicating herself to those voluminous plastics from the late 1960s only. Before first paintings and assemblages arise. Furthermore, she works as a performance artist and starts with her “shooting pictures” with which she first attracts attention.

An exhibition in the Sprengel museum in Hannover now shows the works from the early working years of the artist, amongst them the shooting pictures as well as material pictures from the 1960s. The exhibition “The Big Shots” is supposed to show the artistic development of Niki de Saint Phalles with selected works from the beginning of the 1960s until the 1990s. The museum can draw from a rich pool, because the artist herself gifted more than 400 of her works to the city of Hannover in 2000.

De Saint Phalles early emancipation as an artist is manifested in the shooting pictures: They are gypsum reliefs with worked in paint containers. Then, they are shot with a gun so the containers are destroyed and the color runs on the painting. An important example is the Hommage to Bob Rauschenberg – Shot by Rauschenberg (1961), a constructed assemblage which is dedicated to the famous American artist Robert Rauschenberg, who she let shoot himself.

In the large material pictures from the 1960s, the artist tries to free herself from the ideal and material constraints as well as from her past. In La Mort du Patriarche (1962) she settles with the patriarchal figure, characterized by muscles, large phallus and small head. With her early artistic works, Niki de Saint Phalle tried to process her childhood where she was abused by her father. Only with the Nanas, which are represented in Hannover with the figure of the large Gwendolyn (1966-90), does Niki find her famous happy form language that characterizes many of her later sculptures and installations in the public.

In the exhibition in Hannover, a number of models are shown that Niki created in the late 1970s for the Tarot garden in Italy. For the park, which is open to the public since 1998, and that the artist understood as a meditative garden, Niki de Saint Phalle created, together with her husband Tinguely, 22 figures following the French Tarot card game as well as numerous colorful and fantastic mosaics.

The exhibition, which is shown as the start of the large collection presentation named “130 % Sprengel” in the Sprengel museum Hannover, can be visited from April 26th, 2016 till January 29th, 2017 in the insight hall of the museum.

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