Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) passionately rebelled—against artistic trends or movements, against women’s traditional roles, against perceived limitations of what a woman artist could do. She forged her own path, one that was set in motion in 1961 by her shots heard around the world.
Saint Phalle’s provocative Shooting Paintings brought the artist international attention and set the stage for a multifaceted career imbued with the artist’s personal story as well as the socio-political issues of the era. In the ensuing years, her work took dramatic new form while engaging in lasting dichotomies: allure and aversion, naïveté and sophistication. She established her own visual language populated by voluptuous bodies and fantastical creatures, and her signature forms—appearing through decades of work across various mediums—became the site of complex meaning.
Today, Saint Phalle is most remembered for her joyful, brightly colored sculptures of women mid-frolic. Yet these celebratory figures are part of a larger dialogue. From early assemblages to monumental public art, this exhibition explores the artist’s radical redefinition of women’s roles and women’s bodies and unveils Saint Phalle’s continual quest for freedom.