Niki de Saint PhalleFrance
Art Brokerage: Niki de Saint Phalle French Artist: Niki de Saint Phalle was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris, to Jeanne Jacqueline (née Harper) and André-Marie Fal de Saint Phalle, a banker. After being wiped out financially during the Great Depression, the family moved from France to the United States in 1933. Niki enrolled at the prestigious Brearley School in New York City, but she was dismissed for painting fig leaves red on the school's statuary. She went on to attend Oldfields School in Glencoe, Maryland where she graduated in 1947. During her teenaged years, she was a fashion model; at the age of sixteen, she appeared on the cover of Life magazine (September 26, 1949), and, three years later, on the November 1952 cover of French Vogue. At eighteen, de Saint Phalle eloped with author Harry Mathews, whom she had known since the age of twelve, and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. While her husband studied music at Harvard University, de Saint Phalle began to paint, experimenting with different media and styles. Their first child, Laura, was born in April 1951. De Saint Phalle rejected the staid, conservative values of her family, which dictated domestic positions for wives and particular rules of conduct. However, after marrying young and giving birth to two children, she found herself living the same bourgeois lifestyle that she had attempted to reject; the internal conflict caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown. As a form of therapy, she was urged to pursue her painting. While in Paris on a modeling assignment, de Saint Phalle was introduced to the American painter, Hugh Weiss, who became both her friend and mentor. He encouraged her to continue painting in her self-taught style. She subsequently moved to Deià, Majorca, Spain, where her son Philip was born in May 1955. While in Spain, de Saint Phalle read the works of Proust and visited Madrid and Barcelona, where she became deeply affected by the work of Antonio Gaudí. Gaudí's influence opened many previously unimagined possibilities for de Saint Phalle, especially with regard to the use of unusual materials and objets-trouvés as structural elements in sculpture and architecture. De Saint Phalle was particularly struck by Gaudí's "Park Güell" which persuaded her to create one day her own garden-based artwork that would combine both artistic and natural elements. Saint Phalle continued to paint, particularly after she and her family moved to Paris in the mid-1950s. Her first art exhibition was held in 1956 in Switzerland, where she displayed her naïve style of oil painting. She then took up collage work that often featured images of the instruments of violence, such as guns and knives. Listings wanted.Read More +
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