Niki de Saint Phalle’s Shooting Paintings

I was revisiting today Niki de Saint Phalle’s Shooting Paintings (Tirs) of the early 1960s, where for the most part she creates plaster-covered canvases or assemblages and shoots at plastic bags or spray cans concealed within these sculptural paintings—thus doing painting, sculpture, assemblage, and performance art all at once. (To which we should add the photos and films which document the shooting sessions or her creative process.)

What I love about her Tirs is that she starts from Pollock’s action painting, which is so often regarded as very macho, and makes it seem rather feeble. Niki de Saint Phalle doesn’t dance around her canvases pouring out her emotions in a balanced fashion but rather takes aim at those paint containers and renders her works finished in a way that posits her as a powerful agent who has found a way to stand up to the violence in her life and the world around her.

In a future post I’ll look at her Nanas, voluptuous, colorful, and life-affirming, which she started creating in 1964 after her Tirs series.


7 thoughts on “Niki de Saint Phalle’s Shooting Paintings

  1. Mira Tudor, Thank you for the images and information. I followed the link to Château Chinon, for an elucidating, enjoyable read. Isn’t it comforting to know that the two artists of different media and orientations survived as a couple and as an occasional professional team?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They had a difficult relationship, though. In 2004 I saw an exhibition at Hundertwasserhaus which included drawings about her feelings for Jean Tinguely. I thought they were quite touching. She loved him a great deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mira Tudor, Thank you for the image and the write-up. My previous visit’s comment must not have taken. But I remember wondering whether the film, photograph or real-life sculptured painting draws the most critics and crowds.
    When will you be writing about her Nanas series?

    Liked by 1 person

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