Monday, August 3, 2015

Niki de Saint Phalle and Expo and Me

de Saint Phalle's Nanas as Three Muses.

Apparently, during Expo67, the World's Fair in Montreal, the Archbishop of Montreal was asked to give a mass on the roof of the French Pavilion (that is now the Casino de Montreal) and while he did so, he had big asses and huge boobies in his face, because the roof was the venue of an installation by Niki de Saint Phalle, Franco-American sculptor and her husband Jean Tinguely.

The installation consisted of 9 pieces, a female figure and a machine, representing maleness.

Today, I listened to a podcast about de la Phalle. I knew nothing about her, but her figures were familiar to me, although I've never been to the Tate where a room is dedicated to them.

I've seen them here and there, most likely small copies in novelty shops.

I wasn't sure where I had first seen these exuberant women, but I wasn't surprised to discover it probably was at Expo67.

I don't remember going onto the roof of the French Pavilion, but I probably did, at least once. Although the installation was beside a terrace and a bar, so maybe 'adults only.'





It's too bad. This installation totally captured the spirit of Expo67 and it should have been displayed on a main throughfare.

I would have passed it many times. I visited Expo 50 times in all. As I've written many times on this blog, Expo was my art eduction and I was especially impressed by the sculptures; those around the site and in the Garden of Sculptures behind the American Pavilion.

Here are two sculptures at Expo67.



I wrote a scene there in my play Looking for Mrs. Peel.



Now, the academic deconstructing se Saint Phalle's work claimed that the figures were 'the image of women freed from the wall, and allowed to dance free,' or something to that effect.

I wonder, if I would have figured that out, back then, when I was12 years old and in the throes of puberty, (and the same age de Saint Phalle was when her father 'took her as his mistress.')

I suspect so.

Maybe that's why they hid the piece away. Looking on YouTube, I can't see that the installation got much press.

Here's a bit from a very local Connecticut newspaper.



Niki de Saint Phalle, an aristocrat and former Paris fashion model and magazine cover girl and a  mental patient who received electro-shock therapy, was, like most great artists, before her time. Some describe her work as 'naive' - as in unschooled, but she certainly wasn't naive about the world.

According to another YouTube video, the installation was put in Central Park in 1968 and then moved to Stockholm, where it is today.