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Art by Niki de Saint-Phalle


Ceramic, glass and pebbles on polyurethane foam and resin with steel frame.
317 by 218 by 172cm., 124 3/4 by 85 7/8 by 67 3/4 in.

Executed in 2000-01, this work is unique.

Buddha represents the culmination of Niki de Saint Phalle's decorative style. Its vivid mosaic surface bears the influence of Gaudi's distinctive technique whilst the architectural scale and inclusion of a seat in the reverse of the figure blurs the boundaries between sculpture and functional object. Both fantastical and overwhelming in physical presence, .Buddha is an exceptional example of Niki de Saint Phalle's personal yet universal iconography. Indeed, the artist concluded: 'in my work... everything is used great joys, desires, tragedies and pains. It is all subjective. It is all my life. Nothing is secret. I have nowhere to hide. Luckily people cannot always see what they look at. It is their own past, their unconscious dreams that they see' (the artist in: Ulrich Krempel et al, .Niki de Saint Phalle: Monograph, Lausanne, 2001, n.p.).

Playful, bold and baroque, Niki de Saint Phalle's large-scale multimedia sculptures are among the most idiosyncratic three-dimensional works of the post-war and contemporary era. Their bright, richly textured surfaces, animated by arabesque patterns and reflective mosaics, imbue each sculpture with a unique sensory immediacy. Niki de Saint Phalle first began to create figural sculpture in 1965 when she conceived of her Nanas an extensive series of works inspired by the changing position of women in contemporary society. These corpulent figures, typically engaged in a playful dance, convey a spirit of freedom and jubilation, and represent the artist's provocation of the male-dominated Parisian art world.

Without doubt the most distinctive characteristic of these sculptures is their sense of theatricality, which achieved something of an apotheosis in Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden a monumental sculpture park in Garavicchio, Tuscany, on which the artist began working in 1979. It was inspired in large part by the Art Nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudí, which she first discovered in 1955 whilst on a trip to Barcelona. Its boundaries contain numerous immense sculptures based on the icons found on tarot cards and opened to the public in 1998 after almost twenty years of development. This ongoing project inspired the often gargantuan scale of Niki de Saint Phalle's standalone sculptures including the present work, Buddha, which was one of the last pieces the artist created before her death in 2002.

Sotheby's is holding a private sale of sculptures for well-heeled customers. Sotheby's returns to Chatsworth in Derbyshire’s Peak District for its fourth selling exhibition of modern and contemporary sculpture. Increasingly recognized as one of the most prestigious platforms for displaying monumental works in an outdoor setting, Beyond Limits promises to be as innovative as ever, coming at a time when the debate around large-scale public sculpture has never been more topical. 30 works by an international array of artists have been carefully placed within the Capability Brown-designed and Joseph Paxton-engineered gardens at the very heart of England’s most breathtaking country estate. Bronzes by Aristide Maillol and Henry Moore will be juxtaposed with contemporary pieces in iron, steel, copper and concrete by artists ranging from Antony Gormley, Marc Quinn and Jaume Plensa to Yayoi Kusama, Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt. All works are available for private sale, they are not going to auction.

Chatsworth House
DE45 1PP
United Kingdom