“For me they were the symbols of a happy, liberated woman,” said Niki de Saint Phalle, referring to her renowned Nana sculptures. “I see them as the forerunners of a new matriarchal epoch.” When she began work on the Nanas, in 1965, the sculptures were as revolutionary as they were colorful. Sumptuous, curvaceous, these symbols of femininity were inspired by Saint Phalle’s pregnant friend. During the same period, Saint Phalle also devised her performance-oriented Tirs (shots): she secured bags of paint above canvases and sculptures, then shot the bags so that the paint exploded downward. This is the first exhibition to examine this pivotal decade in Saint Phalle’s art. —E.C.
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