Iconic Feminist Artist—And Beauty Influencer? Niki de Saint Phalle’s Lesser-Known Impact on the World of Skin Care

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Immediately taken by the hue that the artist herself described as “the color of joy and luck,” La Prairie ultimately decided there was only one color that could symbolize the essence of the brand’s iconic line. Continuing their appreciation for Saint Phalle, the beauty brand spearheaded the current PS1 exhibition to celebrate and bring greater awareness of the artist’s life work. 

But Saint Phalle’s legacy of mixing allure with a political edge went beyond her palette. Perhaps some of her best-known works of art, the Nanas were a collection of curvy sculptures that often appeared in motion and were intentionally seductive. “When they were first made in the ’60s, the Nanas were these exaggerated female forms, and they were large-scale, functioning as these monumental sculptures that were really a counterpoint to the representation of femininity at the time where a lot of the monuments depicting women’s bodies were made by men,” says Katrib. “The Nanas evoked goddess figures, but they were also really provocative, sometimes even being read as scandalous.”

Saint Phalle’s approach to body positivity through her sculptural work at a time when narrow ideals of the female form were still mass-produced was bold and created important dialogue around desirability and sexual attraction while helping push open the parameters of how beauty is understood. As she put it, “For me, my sculptures represent the world of the amplified woman, the delusion of grandeur of women, women in the world today, woman power.”

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“Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life” will run until September 6, 2021. More information can be found here.

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