Niki de Saint Phalle

1930 - 2000
In February, Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely travel to California and visit Simon Rodia's Watts Towers near Los Angeles. Niki assists a CBS crew in the filming of a happening by Jean Tinguely, Study for the End of the World Number 2, in the Nevada Desert.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, she stages her first two American "shootings": one, sponsored and hosted by the gallerist Virginia Dwan at her beach house in Malibu on March 4; the other, with the assistance of Ed Kienholz, in the hills overlooking Malibu.
From there, Niki and Jean Tinguely go to Mexico.
On May 4, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, and several other artists, among whom Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella, take part in a performance of Kenneth Koch's play, The Construction of Boston, presented by the Maidman Playhouse in New York and directed by Merce Cunningham. Including in the performance is a shooting of a Vénus de Milo at the hands of Niki.

Back in Europe, Niki presents ten shooting paintings and altars at the Galerie Rive Droite in Paris. Among the visitors is Alexandre Iolas, who offers to give her a show at his New York gallery in October. This marks the beginning of a long-lasting relationship between the artist and the gallerist. Through the years, Iolas will provide her with financial support, organize numerous exhibitions of her work, and act as her mentor - thus introducing her to such towering Surrealist figures as Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Matta.
Yves Klein dies suddenly on June 6.
From August 30 to September 30, Niki takes part in Dylaby ("Dynamic Labyrinth"), a large-scale installation at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, along with Robert Rauschenberg, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Per Olof Ultvedt.
On October 15, Niki opens her first solo exhibition in New York at the Alexander Iolas Gallery, which lasts until November 3. For the occasion, Niki unveils her Homage to Le Facteur Cheval, an intricate construction in a shooting gallery of sorts, which the public is invited to shoot; ten other pieces are included in the show.

In May, Virginia Dwan organizes a shooting event at her gallery in Los Angeles, in which Niki takes aim at a monumental King Kong. The shooting piece is subsequently acquired by the Moderna Museet of Stockholm. King Kong is only one among the many scary figures which will come to people Niki's art world. Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely establish residence in a former hotel, L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc, at Soisy-sur-Ecole. There, Niki begins work on a series of sculptures denouncing the roles in which society has cast women: child bearers, devouring mothers, witches, and prostitutes.

Niki spends the summer in Lutry near Lausanne, where she works on several large heads made of wool and papier-mâché, her "Brides", and a piece entitled Saint George and the Dragon. In September, her first solo exhibition in London opens at the Hanover Gallery. In October, she travels to New York where she stays and works at the Chelsea Hotel. While in New York, she completes a series of sculptures of Nanas, Hearts and Dragons.

In collaboration with Martial Raysse and Jean Tinguely, Niki designs the stage sets and costumes for Roland Petit's ballet, Eloge de La Folie, performed in March at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. In June, Niki, Jean Tinguely and Per Olof Ultvedt are invited by Pontus Hulten to install a large sculpture in the entrance hall of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm for which he is the curator. The three artists settle for a monumental reclining Nana, 28 meters in length, 9 meters in width, and 6 meters in height, which they name Hon ("she" in Swedish).
While at work in Stockholm, Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely meet the young Swiss artist Rico Weber, who helps them build Hon. This marks the beginning of a long period of collaboration during which Rico Weber will play the double role of assistant and colleague to Niki as well as to Jean Tinguely.
In October, Niki designs the sets and costumes for a production of Aristophane's Lysistrata by Rainer von Diez at the Staatstheater in Kassel, Germany.

Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely work on Le Paradis Fantastique, a commission from the French government for the French Pavilion at Expos'67 in Montreal. Le Paradis Fantastique consists of nine painted sculptures by Niki and six kinetic machines by Jean Tinguely.
From Montreal, Le Paradis Fantastique travels first to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and then to Central Park in New York where it remains on display for an entire year. It now stands as a permanent fixture in Stockholm, close to the Moderna Museet.
In August, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam offers Niki her first museum show, entitled Nana Power. For the occasion, Niki creates her first Nana Dream House and Nana Fountain; she also makes the blueprint for her first Nana Town.
The new pieces are made of polyester - a material with which Niki has just started to experiment.

In June, Niki de Saint Phalle's first play, ICH, is performed at the Staatstheater in Kassel, Germany. It is directed by Rainer von Diez, who has also co-authored the play. Stage sets, costumes, and poster are all designed by Niki.
The Kunstverein für die Rheinlande Westfalen in Düsseldorf, Germany, holds a show entitled Niki de Saint Phalle: Werke 1962-1968, which will subsequently travel to another German museum, the Kunstverein Hannover.
In October, she presents her eighteen-piece wall relief, Last Night I Had a Dream, at the Galerie Alexandre Iolas in Paris.
She designs inflatable Nanas to be manufactured and marketed in New York.
Toward the end of the year, Niki suffers respiratory troubles due to repeated exposure to polyester fumes and dust.
She travels to Morocco.

Following a visit to India, Niki begins work on her first full-scale architectural project: three houses in the South of France for Rainer von Diez, which will be finished building in 1971.
The Galerie Stangl in Munich, Germany, presents different facets of Niki's work in a show entitled Plastiken, Zeichnungen und Graphiken von Niki de Saint Phalle. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York acquires Niki's Black Venus and, in April, includes it in an exhibition entitled Contemporary American Sculpture, Selection 2.
In Milly-la-Forêt begins the building of Le Cyclope (also known as La Tête), a project initiated by Jean Tinguely to which several other artists, including Niki, collaborate.

On November 29, at the opening of the festival organized by Pierre Restany and Guido Le Noci in Milan to mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Nouveau Réalisme movement, Niki shoots at an assemblage built in the form of an altar. A series of seventeen serigraphs by Niki is published in Paris under the title Nana Power.
Niki, accompanied by Jean Tinguely, makes her first visit to Egypt.

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