Les Trois Graces by Niki de Saint Phalle (1999)

Les Trois Graces is a set of three public artworks by French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle. The Three Graces are part of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, New York Avenue Sculpture Project. In the classic style of Niki de Saint Phalle’s work, Les Trois Graces are three large sculptures of voluptuous women (a creation that de Saint Phalle calls a ‘Nana’) who appear to be dancing. Made of fiberglass, one Nana is covered in white, one yellow and the other is black mosaic tiles, ranging in heights of 12 to 15 feet.

They all wear elaborate bathing suits in designs such as hearts, fish and instruments, in multiple color schemes. A whimsical set of sculptures, the three figures have their arms raised as if ballet dancing; each has one foot on the ground and another raised up. They are Saint Phalle’s own version of The Three Graces. The artist said that the works represent unity among the races.

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Les Trois Graces are the first of many sculptures being installed for the New York Avenue Sculpture Project by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. By 2015 a selection of sculptures was installed along New York Avenue from 13th Street to 9th Street. The Museum’s efforts were in part to bring ‘character’ to an area where ‘there is a lot of good stuff going on’ due to revitalisation programs in the neighbourhood. The installation of de Saint Phalle’s pop art works was intended to contrast with the traditional sculpture that graces the streets and square’s of Washington.

Did Niki de Saint Phalle’s work change the art world?

Read the Art News article for a fascinating discussion about art, feminism, politics and social change.

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