Niki de Saint Phalle’s Sparkling Garden of Earthly Delights

  • The Firebird, Niki Saint de Phalle The Firebird, Niki Saint de Phalle
  • The Firebird, Detail, Niki Saint de Phalle The Firebird, Detail, Niki Saint de Phalle
  • Le Temple Ideal, Niki Saint de Phalle Le Temple Ideal, Niki Saint de Phalle
  • Large Yellow Man Totem Pole, Detail, Niki Saint de Phalle Large Yellow Man Totem Pole, Detail, Niki Saint de Phalle
     

Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptural environments create a sparkling garden of earthly delights inhabited by dancing “Nana” women, mythical creatures and imaginary temples.  In this blog article, I am referencing the famous triptych painting by Hieronymus Bosch titled, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1500-1550.  The triptych painting features heaven, hell and the dominant central scene is the garden of earthly delights.  As I viewed this work up close on the Museo Nacional del Prado website online, I realized that this central panel is very reminiscent of the magical Tarot Garden created by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely in Capalbio, Italy.  As with Bosch, Niki has also created imaginary landscapes full of strange, other worldly creatures and frolicking figures.  The world of Niki is one frozen in a state of human bliss and sparkling delight.  The scale of some of her pieces is truly monumental.  In the exhibit “Niki in the Garden” at the Atlanta Botanical Garden one was engaged with her sculptures like a playful child.  Visitors strolled through the mythical-looking Firebird archway,  hid inside the giant La Cabeza skull or even took a slide down the back of a giant reptilian monster.  There is a wildly playful character to her sculptures.  It is not surprising that while living in Spain during the 1950′s, Niki became inspired by the mosaic art and architecture of Antonio Gaudi.  One can see the influence of Gaudi in Niki’s Grotto in Hannover, Germany where she created a mysterious architectural environment with numerous dreamy doorways and rippling striped waves of reflective glass mosaic.  When being transported into the sparkling realm of Niki de Saint Phalle one feels that this type of celebratory public sculpture is sorely needed in our world today.  Check out the above slide show to view some of her site specific sculptures.  To learn more about Niki Saint de Phalle and to locate her public sculpture around the world visit the Niki Charitable Art Foundation at http://nikidesaintphalle.org/

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