top of page
La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Shooting Paintings

Niki de Saint Phalle

1961

If Pollock introduced the concept of "action painting", Niki de Saint-Phalle added an element of power to it.

She had a particularly traumatic childhood.

Born in Paris in 1930 in an aristocratic family who lost everything in the 1929 financial crash, she was brought up by her grandmother, in France, before moving to New York, where she was raped by her father and beaten by her mother. Both her younger siblings later committed suicide.

She modelled as a teenager and become a mother at 21, moving to Europe with her husband and baby, where they traveled and lived a bohemian life.

She suffered a nervous breakdown at 22 and was sent to a psychiatric hospital to receive electro-shocks.

During her travels, she became fascinated by the works of Gaudi, Duchamp and Pollock - and decided to become a full-time artist.

Her Shooting Paintings brought her international fame.

She hid bags full of colourful paint behind a white plaster installation - and shot at them with rifles or miniature canons.

This was often a collective experience, as she invited fellow artists and people who had commissioned the artwork to shoot with her.

Like Pollock, she believed the process of creating the artwork was as important as the artwork in itself.

Besides her Shootings, she's also very famous for her Nanas - monumental, curvy and colourful female figures celebrating female power and sensuality.