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Niki de Saint Phalle

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Niki de Saint Phalle was a truly global artist – born in the suburbs of Paris, she lived in New York before moving to Spain, Switzerland, and Paris again. In the 1960s, Saint Phalle emerged as a powerful and original figure in a highly masculine international Pop arts world. She began with highly decorative, colourful paintings before moving on to creative assemblages and landscapes using objects found throughout the household, such as toys, broken plates, and kitchen gloves. Look closely at her Self Portrait (1958), a dark and visibly tortured depiction, and you'll see that her own figure is made up of shards of glass and household trinkets. Like Nicola L and other female Pop artists around the world, Saint Phalle used her work to explore the roles of women in art in society, through pieces such as Shooting Pictures, in which she fired a .22 rifle into bags of paint strapped to a canvas, and the "Nanas", her bold and colourful sculptures of monstrously feminine figures.

We've seen that Pop art was a vehicle for international and women artists to disrupt an art history that they saw as belonging to mostly male artists in a US-UK context. What other ideas do you think Pop art could critique?
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Video transcript

you I'm kind of a doll and I'm assistant curator at tate liverpool and we're currently in the nicholas Anfal exhibition which is just opening this is the first major Nicholas and file exhibition in the UK since her death in 2002 and it's really the most major comprehensive survey of her work going through the five decades of her career and showing all the different phases and changes that she made in her work we start off the exhibition with her very very early painting some of the ones that she did but at the right at the beginning where she was actually recovering from a nervous breakdown and we get these very highly decorative colorful paintings these then developed into these assemblages where she started sort of paring down sort of decorative nests into abstract landscapes but sort of adding all these elements that she found around the house so she started in bedding sore and broken plates and plastic toys that she found around and she embedded these into the landscapes to make these sort of assemblages and then go slightly onto the more sinister and she starts adding these violent elements to her work like knives and guns and it's at this point that we see this dark element of Nikki coming out he's sort of a very tortured soul and she's looking back against the perhaps his nervous breakdown that she'd have in the way of her dealing with the complex emotions that she was feeling at the time the autoportrait is sometimes also been called up as a tortured self-portrait and its influence i think my Goudy as well cause you've got the ceramic tiles in it and she just recently visited park guell in barcelona however it's also looking at her own self as of her being tortured and tormented at that time and saw the personal feelings that she was feeling in her head so it's a very sort of stark figure standing like alone made out of all these assemblies objects which she's found around the house I think the shooting paintings are very cathartic their way of hurt of getting out her aggression by sort of a very aggressive means she would make little pockets of paint in plastic bags and she would fill them with food stuff sometimes and paint some all different kinds of things she would then hang them like on a wall in some way and get a rifle and shoot out them so these little pockets would burst open with paint and it see on all those painting they're very vibrant colors as the paint drips down the picture she herself said that they were like making the paint bleed so again it is that process of shooting something and watching it die and bleed after the shooting paintings she then sort of went to required to period and wanted to move into and exploring worlds of femininity and women in society so she looks at them from perhaps a negative point of view looking at that women should only be brides or mothers perhaps the symptomatic of those feelings of entrapment that she'd felt herself for she creates these sort of grotesque sculptures which even though they're very white and pure and a covered with veils they've got all sorts of dolls hanging from them and crawling all over the bodies and they're very sort of monstrous and grotesque this is kind of opposed to then at the same time she starts making the nano sculptures which are very brightly colored exuberant sculptures of women and they're very rounded and these are sort of celebratory and sort of triumphant femininity so you've got these opposed to look so she's looking at more celebration and then sort of sad despairing grotesque the tarot garden which we just we concentrate on the end of the exhibition he had in the back of her mind that she always wanted to make a huge monumental outside garden that people go visit she achieved that in 1999 when it opened yet she worked 20 years to make that happen and I feel that you get a sense through this exhibition that whatever she wants to achieve she achieved in the end you