Niki de Saint Phalle’s mosaic sculptures will continue to sparkle on Park Avenue through late November. CREDIT: Laura Maloney/Nohra Haime Gallery, New York
French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s exuberant, colorful sculptures burst on the art scene in the late 1970s, part of the irreverent and boundary-pushing genre of the era, and retain their power to startle, tickle and outrage audiences today. Now nine monumental works march down New York’s Park Avenue, including frolicking swimsuited sculptures she called Nanas, plus assorted other strange beasts, jazz musicians and athletes. The statues, made of polyester resin covered with mosaic tiles of ceramic, mirror and stained glass, rise as high as 16 feet and as wide as 13 feet.
The child of a banking family, Saint Phalle, who died in 2002, rejected bourgeois views and explored painting, collage, papier-mache, film and other graphic forms during her lifetime. The statues, dismissed by one critic as “dated,” still combine whimsy and effrontery in a striking way. The statues will be drawing curious and startled gazes alike on Park Avenue through Nov. 25.