World’s Largest Exhibition of Artist Niki de Saint Phalle at the Atlanta Botanical Garden


ATLANTA, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Opening April 29 2006, Niki in the Garden, presented by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will be the world’s largest exhibition of internationally-renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s outdoor sculptures ever presented. On the scale of Chihuly in the Garden in 2004, this spectacular exhibition features Saint Phalle’s imaginative, monumental artwork beautifully displayed throughout the Garden for six months. The magical and joyful works include enormous animals, mythical figures, totems, sports heroes and most famously her Nanas – oversized, often dancing, powerful women celebrating life. These sculptures are brilliantly embellished with mirrors, glass, semi-precious stones and ceramic mosaics that come to life in all kinds of light. Massive in scale, some pieces reach as high as eighteen feet and span up to twenty-five feet long. Many invite sitting, climbing or crawling through secret passages.

The Exhibition

“We are launching an exhibition of one of most significant artists of the twentieth century,” said Mary Pat Matheson, Executive Director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “The Garden is once again bringing an artist of international prominence to Atlanta, and Niki’s sculptures integrated with the beautiful plant displays of the Garden will be dazzling, surprising and delightful. By the end of the exhibition, the sculpture of Niki de Saint Phalle will be as well known and loved in Atlanta as it is throughout the world.” The Garden is the ideal place for Saint Phalle’s work to be displayed because of her love of nature. Two of her world famous sculpture gardens, The Tarot Garden in Tuscany, Italy and Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Escondido, California both emphasize the natural placement of her art among the elements. As she once described The Tarot Garden as a “meeting place between man and nature,” this exhibition will strive to conform to her ideals. These whimsical, frolicking sculptures will undoubtedly delight Atlanta just as they have been delighting international audiences for decades. “If life is a game of cards, we are born without knowledge of the rules. Yet we must play our hand,” said Saint Phalle. She undoubtedly mastered this philosophy as her works are internationally heralded as uniquely accessible. While layers of artistic meaning surround each work, the sculptures possess qualities that appeal to the tactile and visual senses, making this exhibition ideal for all ages. Over thirty-five large-scale sculptural works will be spread throughout the Garden, harmonizing with the natural beauty of the landscape. The exhibition concept originator is Ellen Fluerov, President, Crossroads Traveling Exhibitions.

Saint Phalle once described her artistic process as a “work in the darkness of a secret tunnel, always searching for the Sun, hiding from the Moon, and paying homage to the stars.” Niki in the Garden intends to showcase her magnificent art in every possible light.

Niki Charitable Art Foundation (NCAF)

The Atlanta exhibition is made possible by the Niki Charitable Art Foundation (NCAF), a non-profit organization committed to the late artist’s ideals and the preservation of her legacy for future generations. “Niki was a force who needed projects,” says Bloum Cardenas, Saint Phalle’s granddaughter and also a trustee of the NCAF. “She had a huge drive throughout her life.”

Biography

Unparalleled artist Niki de Saint Phalle was born in 1930 in Neuilly-sur- Seine, France and raised in New York City. Both an audacious philosophy and lifestyle created her stunningly innovative artistic style. A passionately imaginative and self-taught artist, Saint Phalle rejected the traditional role of femininity and rigid social definitions in both her personal and artistic life. A founding member and only female involved in the Noveau Realisme movement, Saint Phalle met with prominent avant-garde artists like Christo, Yves Klein and Arman while she was in Paris. Her involvement with this new style of art and her interaction with other subscribing artists influenced her work from that point forward. She became a citizen of the world, sojourning in Asia, Africa and Europe to glean inspiration for the construction of her art. Developing crippling rheumatoid arthritis later in life that made it very hard for her to use her hands and even walk, she never stopped working day in and day out while in the midst of a project. Her art was her life, and she was determined to live it. In the early 1990′s she settled in southern California, and in 2000 she was awarded the acclaimed 12th Premium Imperial Prize in the sculpture category, considered the Nobel Prize equivalent to those in the art world. She remained in California until her death in 2002.

The artist is best known for her work on the sensual and overtly womanly Nanas, which is French for “dame.” Calling the large-scale sculptures and architectural installations “heralds of a new matriarchal age,” Saint Phalle boldly personified her idea of feminine empowerment in these uninhibited, colorful Nanas. Their frenetic dancing, outrageous shapes and shades have appeared in museums, advertisements and outdoor sculptural exhibits around the world.

Saint Phalle was an extremely prolific artist, creating a stunning repertoire of work that includes sculptures, paintings and illustrations. Notable works include Hon in Stockholm (1966), the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris (1983), Noah’s Ark in Jerusalem (1998), Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Escondido (1999 – 2003) and the Tarot Garden in Tuscany (1980 – 1998). After viewing the works of Antonio Gaudi, Saint Phalle became inspired to promise herself “one day I too would build fantasy garden.” Her largest work, the Tarot Garden is a symbolic representation of the mystical tarot figures, a shimmering construction of mosaic and glass that incongruously dots the Tuscan countryside. While working on the Tarot Garden, which spanned a period of nearly 20 years, Saint Phalle wrote the auto biographical My Secret and created the series called Exploding Pictures in memory of her deceased husband Tinguely, whom she had married in 1971. Spanning an enormous array of artistic mediums, Saint Phalle’s career included modeling, .lm, illustration, writing, painting and, of course, sculpture. “La Mort N’Existe Pas – Life is eternal,” remarked Saint Phalle. To be sure, Saint Phalle lives on through the matchless success of her art in all its forms.

About the Garden

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is located at 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, adjacent to Piedmont Park in the heart of Midtown. It is open November through March from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and April through October from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Garden is closed to the public on Mondays. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for students. Admission for Garden members and children under 3 is free. Every Tuesday the Garden extends $2 off per admission thanks to the generosity of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. with “Turner Tuesdays.” During the Niki in the Garden exhibition, every Thursday the Garden will remain open until 9 p.m. for Niki Nights so guests can view the magnificent exhibition in the evening. For more information on Niki in the Garden, call (404) 876-5859 or visit http://www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org/.

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