NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE (1930-2002)
Niki de Saint Phalle is a French-born, American-raised self-taught sculptor, painter, and filmmaker. She is one of the few women who has gained her notoriety by creating monumental sculpture. She is most well-known for her Nana series, which were her brightly colored, stylized sculptures of women. The name of the series comes from a French slang term that translates roughly to “broad” or “chick” in English slang. The first in these series were made of soft materials, such as cloth or yarn, and were essentially life-sized dolls depicting women as brides, mothers, giving birth, and generally celebrating womanhood. As she began to create these in a more monumental format, she switched to using a fiberglass reinforced polyester plastic that could withstand weather, as many of her larger works now reside outdoors. It has been said that Saint Phalle was not only one of the most significant female and feminist artists of the 20th century, but also one of the few to receive recognition amongst the male-dominated art world while she was still alive.