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Niki de Saint Phalle – Artistic vision in Green

Niki de Saint Phalle "Nana Dansuese" - Montreal, Quebec

I came across a long article in the New York Times by Jason Farago a couple of weeks ago about the artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, and the current exhibit of her work the Museum of Modern Art PS1 in Queens, New York. I immediately sat down and read it all the way through, because I have a very large bottle of her famous fragrance which I’ve been waiting to blog about, and I took this article as a sign. WRITE IT NOW!!

Niki de Saint Phalle, born in 1930, was a French and American painter and sculptor, known for her enormous whimsical outdoor sculptures of mythological and fantasy animal and human figures, especially the plump female giants which she named “Nanas” - broad or dame in French. “The French-born, American-raised artist is one of the most significant female and feminist artists of the 20th century, and one of the few to receive recognition in the male-dominated art world during her lifetime.”  Critic Charlotte Jansen -

Coming from a brutal childhood which included incest, and an early marriage that ended with her incarceration in a mental institution, she found her way back to sanity through art. “I was lucky to discover art,” she said, “because on a psychological level I had everything you need to become a terrorist.”and…“Painting calmed the chaos that shook my soul." – Niki de Saint Phalle. 

Saint Phalle’s Nanas are the embodiment of female power, her middle-finger message to the entrenched patriarchy of the art world in Europe and America, revealing the artist’s fierce independence, her commitment to the Feminist Movement, and her belief in her artistic vision. Saint Phalle worked steadily to her death in 2002, continuing to create new Nanas, The queen of the Nanas was “Hon,” which she made with Tinguely and Per Olof Ultvedt in 1966: 75 feet long and lying on her back, with a door to her insides between her open legs. Throughout Europe major cities have her sculptures in outdoor plazas or parks in Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and France - visit the Stravinsky Fountain at Place Pompideau in Paris. 

Her largest and longest single project was the surreal sculptures of the Tarot Garden in Tuscany which she worked on with her partner, artist Jean Tinguely from 1974 to 1998. The huge property was donated by the Agnelli family, owners of the Fiat car company, but the ongoing costs she funded herself by using her bold artistic vision to create a perfume line in 1982, along with jewellery designs.. "I decided to be my own entrepreneur.  If Niki de Saint Phalle perfume succeeds I can finance the garden." – Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle EdT bottle -

Niki de Saint Phalle, the perfume EdT, in the stunning dark cobalt blue round bottle decorated with two colourful entwined snakes, is GREEN. Not fresh green, not herbal green, not grassy green, not floral green. It is GREEN, a green, green chypre. The opening is a wake-up call for the senses, a no-nonsense dry green accord of artemisia (of Green Fairy absinthe fame), mint, and tagetes or marigold, which if you’ve ever sniffed up-close, is the most non-floral flower note you can imagine, dusty, pungent, with a metallic edge. (Marigolds are used in flower beds for a reason – they are a natural insect-deterrent.) The effect of this unusual opening accord is startling, and feels weirdly cool and powerful.

The sharp green of the opening begins to diffuse as the fragrance dries into the heart. I can’t detect the individual listed notes of jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, but the impression is a rosy-clove musky fruitiness when the peach comes to the fore. The marigold balances any floral sweetness, keeping Niki de Saint Phalle cool and controlled but more relaxed.

In the bottom of the heart, the cloud of cool green scent sweetens slightly with light aromatic resins from sandalwood, cedar and pine, and the earthiness of oakmoss and patchouli mix with amber and musk, creating a soft velvety accord into the long dry-down. Marigold has faded but not disappeared and is joined in the musky-mossy-ambery dry-down by dark green vetiver, so that Niki de Saint Phalle remains green and magical, but now is warmed and sweetened, inviting and softly intimate,. 

."Most people don't see the edginess of my work. They think it is all fantasy and whimsy." – Niki de Saint Phalle

Like her sculptures, the fragrance Niki de Saint Phalle created along with nose Carlo Biotti is definitely edgy. It is weird and different, but its difference is what makes it beautiful. Those who are passionate about fragrance will love its power, its green-ness that is like no other. For me, it is green perfection.

Niki de Saint Phalle EdT is listed in our decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

No longer in production, Nike de Saint Phalle is difficult to find even online. 

Image - "Nana Danseuse" -