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Standing Nana

Standing Nana, Acrylic, Marble
Niki de Saint Phalle (French, 1930 – 2002)

French artist Niki de Saint Phalle is well known for her experimental and feminist work that often blurred the lines between painting, performance and sculpture. Born in France in 1930, de Saint Phalle began her career as a fashion model and studied theater and acting. Eventually she turned to painting, although she never received any formal training. While traveling in Spain in the 1950s, she was inspired by Antonio Gaudí's work, especially the sculptural elements of his Parc Güell in Barcelona. During the 1960s, de Saint Phalle lived in an artist colony in Paris where she began her series Tirs or Shooting Paintings. These were created by implanting bags of paint in a white canvas or assemblage sculpture and then shooting them with a gun so that the colors bled down the surface of the work. She also invited members of the public to participate in their creation by shooting the works in a gallery space, adding an element of chance and performance to the painting process. After her first solo exhibition in 1961, she became friends with various American artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Larry Rivers. In the late 1960s, she began working on her famous Nanas sculptures, playful, abstracted goddess-like figures that she produced on both a small and monumental scale.

One of the Nanas is in the University Art Collection and is compelling for its vibrant colors, playful patterns, and rounded, feminine shape placed atop a marble a pedestal.