Niki de Saint Phalle, Our Love Was a Beautiful Flower, 1969, 19 11/16 x 22 7/16".


Niki de Saint Phalle

Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
February 1–May 5, 2008

Curated by Simon Groom and Kyla McDonald

The chirpiest-seeming of feminist art stars, French artist Niki de Saint Phalle is not often associated with bloodthirst: “In 1961 I shot at: daddy, all men, small men, large men.” This 1987 statement regarding her early Nouveau Réaliste Shooting Paintings—symbolic executions of the male art establishment—is a window into a lesser-known side of de Saint Phalle's work, which has been frequently identified with the grotesque friendliness and exuberance of her subsequent Nana sculptures. Attempting to revise preconceptions, this retrospective—spanning 1953 to the late 1990s—will focus on the darker, more brutal aspects of de Saint Phalle's oeuvre in some 120 assemblages, paintings, sculptures, altars, and graphic works. WIll this approach afford new insights? For instance, that her overblown icons of female jouissance have always held a latent threat? The show's catalogue features an essay by Barbara Rose, among others.