Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Wednesday 1st October: Paris Fashion Week - Niki de Saint Phalle at Grand Palais

I have to give thanks to David Koma for first introducing me to the work / legacy of Niki De Saint Phalle via his first collection which was inspired by her use of mosaic.  I have been a fan ever since and was very excited that the timing of my trip to Paris would coincide with a major retrospective at the Grand Palais.  As the name suggests, The Grand Palais is absolutely massive and they have managed to fit a maze of works into this one show.  With each room and their varying themes I thought I had finally reached the end as I finished viewing each one.   However, as I turned every corner I realised that it was still rolling with more and more cosmic sculptures, paintings, illustrations and films.  Not only is her prolific approach perfectly translated but also her personal motivation which was the most inspiring element for me:

"In the eyes of Niki De Saint Phalle, one of the raisons d'ĂȘtre of creating is to bring joy, humour and colour into life.  The large architectural projects that she completed starting in the late 1960's are part of this vision of art; able to speak to everyone and make people happy.  In her most important project, The Tarot Garden, in Italy, Saint Phalle became one of the few artists to tackle such a complex and ambitious public work of art, entirely self-financed through the sale of related products and editions. Each of her pieces offers several levels of interpretation, the complexity of which is often omitted in favour of a more decorative, superficial reading.  To go beyond that reading is to recognise a body of work that feeds on the questioning of social issues.  Niki de Saint Phalle was one of the first artists to address the issue of race and to advocate for civil rights, and then multiculturalism, in America.   She was also one of the first in the 1980's to use her art to raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the AIDS epidemic."

It's these Architectural projects that take up the final room with mequettes of the buildings and footage of tours around the magnificent structures.  It immediately makes you want to plan a pilgrimage to visit one - especially the Dragon House with interior decoration by Keith Haring ............ another personal favourite legend..............

This is a MUST-SEE for anyone visiting Paris this year and also a walk down to the Seine just by The Eiffel Tower where there is a giant public art sculpture of one of her ladies in a bathing suit..........


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