21.05.2017 - 24.09.2017
Niki de Saint Phalle
  • Niki de Saint Phalle: Strength card no. II, 1998 ©bpk, Sprengel Museum
  • Niki de Saint Phalle: Saint Sébastien or Portrait of My Lover, 1961 ©bpk, Sprengel Museum, Michael Herling, Aline Gwose
  • Niki de Saint Phalle: Le pendu, 1988 ©bpk, Sprengel Museum
  • Niki de Saint Phalle: Broken Plates, um 1958 ©bpk, Sprengel Museum, Michael Herling, Aline Gwose
  • Ausstellungsraum Galerie © Jens Sauerbrey
  • Ausstellungsraum Villa © Jens Sauerbrey
  • Ausstellungsraum Villa © Jens Sauerbrey

The exhibition at the Herbert Gerisch Stiftung presents around 50 artworks produced from the 1950s to the year 2000 by the Franco-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. While still married to the writer Harry Mathews in the 1950s, the autodidact began her work in the field of painting. Pictures from that time, for example “La Fête”, show a very fresh personal view of the world. She left her husband and children in 1960 in order to devote herself entirely to art in Paris, where she joined the circle of the Nouveaux Realistes. When she later began shooting at her white pictures in the early 1960s, awaking them to a colourful life, it represented her opposition to the world of men, power, politics and religion.


She was the first woman to appear symbolically as violent agent in a metaphorical reckoning with the brutal world of men, tempestuously assuming her place in the art world. A German magazine of the time published a headline reading: “Countess Niki paints with the carbine”. The artist herself noted in 1987: “I was an angry young woman ... became an artist because I had no alternative. It was my fate. I embraced art as my salvation and my necessity.”


Early shooting paintings as well as first assemblages are on view in the exhibition. Their political dimension is already alluded to in the titles: “Paysage de la mort” (Landscape of Death) was made in 1960, “Broken Plates” even earlier, in 1958. In subsequent years, however, she contrasted such aggressive themes with the world of her positive images of women, with her colourful Nanas. Along with “Nana écartelée” from 1965, which is pasted with wool yarn and decorated in the bold patterns of the day, the exhibition also features a number of designs and models for sculptures. The vision of a new sort of womanhood, a joyous, erotic and anarchistic feminism, is also evident in the large-format lithographs from that time.


The exhibition culminates in an extensive presentation of the artist’s great life work, the Tarot Garden, the Giardino dei Tarocchi. Niki de Saint Phalle’s designs for a large-scale park based on tarot’s 22 trump cards is known and loved today throughout Europe. The Stiftung is exhibiting numerous models, including that of the “Church of all Religions”, and lithographs of the sculptures and houses in the Tuscan sculpture park, which enter into a exemplary dialogue with the Gerisch Sculpture Park here in Neumünster.


The exhibition is a cooperation with the lender, the Sprengel Museum Hannover, and the Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U.