Niki de Saint Phalle Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle

The influential French-American artist is known for her whimsical, joyful, provocative, and socially conscious outdoor sculptures. 

Preserving a Pioneering and Prolific Artistic Legacy

Niki de Saint Phalle

Sculptor, painter, and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle was born in France in 1930 and lived in Europe and the United States until her death in Southern California in 2002. A member of the Nouveau Realisme movement, Saint Phalle infused her work with commentary on race, gender, politics, pandemics and climate change — issues that still resonate today. In 2000, she was awarded the Praemium Imperial Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of the art world.

One of the most enduring works of art associated with Saint Phalle is Le Cyclop, located in Milly-la-Forêt, France. A giant, one-eyed head covered in mirrors, Le Cyclop is a 75-foot-tall sculpture constructed from more than 300 tons of industrial debris, and it was created by Saint Phalle's husband, Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, along with Saint Phalle and a group of artist friends. The group began working on Le Cyclop in 1969 and spent more than 20 years building the sculpture. 

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 Saint Phalle died before the garden's completion, her granddaughter and assistants saw the project to fruition. 

GRoW Support


Grand Palais - Niki Exhibition


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