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L’ange protecteur by Niki de Saint Phalle.

The Guardian Angel – L’ange protecteur by Niki de Saint Phalle.

The work.

The angel was a gift from the Securitas company to mark the 150th anniversary of railways in Switzerland.

Weighing 1.2 tonnes and more than 11 metres tall, the angel was shipped in three parts from the USA to Basel via Rotterdam and then transported to Zurich on a low loader. In Zurich she was reassembled and then raised into the position where she hangs today.

Life and work of Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki de Saint-Phalle's cheerful, sumptuous «Nana» figures earned the artist international renown.

Born in a suburb of Paris in 1930, Niki de Saint Phalle grew up mainly in the USA. In 1951 she returned to Paris, where she started painting in 1953.

In 1964 she created the first «Nanas» – figures of everywoman in opulent, rounded shapes – out of wire and fabric. However, she soon changed her technique and henceforth worked primarily in polyester.

Initially, these figures provoked a full-blown «artistic scandal» and drew condescending smiles from her artist colleagues. Today the public and art critics and art historians alike recognise in the figures a contemporary expression of what it means to be a woman. «I titled my first Nana exhibition Nana Power», the artist explains. «For me they were the symbol of cheerful, liberated woman.» Twenty years later, however, her take on the «Nanas» had changed. Niki de Saint-Phalle now saw her figures as harbingers of a new matriarchal age.
In the international art market Niki de Saint-Phalle's cheerful, life-affirming figures are among the most popular works of contemporary art.

Through her marriage with Jean Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle acquired Swiss nationality in 1971.

Niki de Saint Phalle spent her later years in San Diego, California, where she died on 21 May 2002 aged 71 after a long illness.

Two years previously she had received the Praemium Imperiale, known as the «Nobel Prize for the Arts», a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association.

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