Niki de Saint Phalle Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle

French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) is known for her whimsical, creative figures that include commentary on social issues that are still relevant today.

Preserving a Prolific, Lifelong Artistic Legacy

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle was known for her monumental outdoor sculptures and was a member of the Nouveau Realisme movement. She was born in France in 1930 and lived throughout Europe and the United States until her death in Southern California in 2002. She specialized in sculpting, painting, and filmmaking, and was known for her social activism and commentary. Among many accolades, in 2000 Niki de Saint Phalle was awarded the Praemium Imperial Prize – considered the Nobel Prize of the art world.

One of Niki de Saint Phalle's works of art is Le Cyclop, a massive monument located in Milly-la-Forêt, France. Le Cyclop is a 75-foot-tall sculpture constructed from more than 300 tons of industrial debris created by Saint Phalle's husband, Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, along with Saint Phalle and a group of artist friends. The artists began working on Le Cyclop in 1969, and they spent more than 20 years building the sculpture. Today, Le Cyclop belongs to the French government and is a popular attraction for tourists and locals.

Two years before her death, Niki de Saint Phalle began working on Queen Califia's Magical Circle, her only American sculpture garden and last major project. The sculpture garden is situated on a 12-acre natural habitat in Escondido, California. Its imagery was influenced by early California history, myth, and legend, Native American and Meso-American culture, and indigenous wildlife and plant species. Although Niki de Saint Phalle died before the garden's completion, her granddaughter and assistants carried the project through to fruition. Today, Queen Califia's Magical Circle welcomes families and students to experience its creative and tranquil environment.

In 2014, the Grand Palais, located on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, presented Saint Phalle's "complex body of work in various media which was deeply embedded with socio-political issues."

GRoW Support


Grand Palais - Niki Exhibition


Programming - Queen Califa's Magical Circle (City of Escondido)