Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s
Splattered, saturated paint drips over a mock up of New York's cityscape by Niki de Saint Phalle

April 9, 2022 to July 17, 2022

Formerly On view at MCASD

Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s is the first exhibition to survey the experimental work of French American artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002) during this pivotal decade, featuring numerous works from European collections that will be displayed in the United States for the first time.

The exhibition explores a transformative ten-year period in Saint Phalle’s work when she embarked on two of her most significant series: the Tirs, or “shooting paintings,” and the exuberant sculptures of women she called Nanas. Affirming the artist’s place in postwar art history, this show highlights her prescient works of performance, participatory, and feminist art, as well as her many transatlantic projects and collaborations.

Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s brings together major paintings, assemblages, and sculptures from this important chapter in the artist’s career, as well as extensive film and photographic documentation from the Niki Charitable Art Foundation and the Menil Collection Archives.

3D Virtual Tour of Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s presented by La Prairie Switzerland.


Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s is co-curated and co-organized by Jill Dawsey, Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and Michelle White, Senior Curator, the Menil Collection.

Lead support and major funding is made possible through the generous support of La Prairie Switzerland. Support for this exhibition at both the Menil Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is provided by Christie’s. Institutional support of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Research for this exhibition was supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Major funding for this exhibition at the Menil Collection is provided by Cecily E. Horton; a gift in memory of Virginia P. Rorschach; Bettie Cartwright; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support comes from Eddie Allen and Chinhui Juhn; Suzanne Deal Booth; Dragonfly Collection, Garance Primat; Clare Casademont and Michael Metz; Cindy and David Fitch; Barbara and Michael Gamson; Janie C. Lee; Susan and Francois de Menil; Mary Ross Taylor; Carol and David Neuberger; Julie and John Cogan, Jr.; Robin and Andrew Schirrmeister; MCT Fund; Niki Charitable Art Foundation; UBS Financial Services and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

Top: Niki de Saint Phalle, Pirodactyl over New York, 1962. Paint, plaster, and objects on two wood panels, 98 3/8 × 122 × 11 3/4 in. (249.9 × 309.9 × 29.8 cm). Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. © Niki Charitable Art Foundation. All rights reserved