Last October we were in and around Paris.One week I was taking a doll sculpting class with Marlaine Verhelst at a chateau outside the city, and we had only Wednesday afternoon free for exploring. Seth and I went into Paris, spent a little time at the Pompidou Museum (which looks as though it was constructed by a giant with a Lego set), including a tour of Brancusi's studio in the basement, and went looking for a place to sit and have coffee before meeting a friend for a night of Parisian Arabic jazz (for lack of a better term--very exciting music). We came around a corner and there was the fountain pictured in my last post.
Designed by Jean Tinguely, master of the rusted mechanized kinetic sculpture, and Nikki de Saint Phalle, creator of the colorful happy figures, some of which are also kinetic (the mermaid revolves and water gushes from her breast) it absolutely stopped us in our tracks.
We sat down at a table near it and ordered coffee, which, in the Parisian fashion, came with delicious little chocolate wafers, and just looked--and took pictures, although, as you can probably see, it was getting dark.
We returned a few days later, when we were actually staying in Paris, and I bought a couple of books about Nikki and her work--one about her Tarot garden for an older friend who is a painter and also a Tarot reader, and one about her life and work in general for me.
I learned that she had been diagnosed with depression and given several courses of shock therapy, after which she did a series of paintings that apparently gained her quite a bit of notoriety--mostly white, very large, with bags of red paint hung behind them, and designed to be shot with real bullets so that the red would spurt out and add "blood" to the painting.
After that her work (and I assume her life) seems to have taken a much more positive turn, evident in this fountain among other things, and maybe especially in the Dancing Nanas series, of which there are small reproductions (no, I didn't buy one) in virtually every souvenir shop in Paris.
As you may have gathered, Nikki is my current favorite, and I just had to share.