Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2016

Department 1



Niki de Saint Phalle had a fearless approach in her representation of women and her invitation of audience interaction. Born in 1930, she lived through the years of very male dominated areas of art: Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Neo-Dada. Niki de Saint Phalle provided a unique treatment of the female figure through drawing, painting, writing, found object sculpture, large public sculpture, and installation. One of the pieces I will primarily focus on embodies her fascination with audience interaction and the portrayal of the female figure: her controversial and temporary installation of 1966, ‘SHE – a cathedral.' In comparison to other prominent artists of the time, I will investigate how Saint Phalle’s consideration of popular themes, such as the female figure, fit into the time period, and how her work was publicly received. Furthermore, I will answer how her version of what makes a woman beautiful or useful or significant fit in with the artwork of artists during this time with different backgrounds. I will also address how her wide variety and identity as female artist, as well as her inter-nationality, contributed to her somewhat ambiguous place in art history.


Written for ARTH-400: Seminar in Art History and presented at the Central Pennsylvania Art History Symposium at Bloomsbury University.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.