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Niki de SAINT PHALLE

de saint phalle

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“I embraced art as my salvation and my necessity.”
- Niki de Saint-Phalle

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France on October 29, 1930, Niki de Saint Phalle and her family moved to New York soon after her birth. She was educated at the Convent of Sacre Coeur in New York, 1936-45. Around 1948 she was working as a model and actress when she found painting as a release, even though she had no formal training. After her marriage to writer Harry Matthews in 1949, she settles in Paris to study drama, 1952. Suffering from a nervous breakdown, she turned to painting to overcome the crisis and as a result produced her first oils and gouaches in 1953. While visiting Barcelona in 1955, she was deeply influenced by the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. In 1960 she did her first experimental rifle-shot painting and began a long and productive collaboration with sculptor and future husband, Jean Tinguely. She joined the Nouveaux Realists group and exhibited her work for the first time in 1961. In order to finance her Tarot garden in Tuscany, Saint-Phalle created a self-named fragrance for Jacqueline Cochran Company. Completed in 1995, Peter Schamoni made a documentary film about the artist entitled “Who is the Monster, You or Me?” Toxic fumes from the polyester in her early sculptures caused severe damage to her lungs. She experienced her first attack of rheumatoid arthritis in 1982 and eventually moved to La Jolla, California for health reasons in 1994. She passed away May 21, 2002 in La Jolla, California.