8th of March, International Women’s Day

Artwork by Niki de Saint Phalle, Californian Diary

“Dear Diary,

I saw a fat woman on the beach today and she reminded me of a great pagan goddess.

Black is different. I have made many black figures in my work. Black Venus, black Madonna, black men, black nanas. It has always been an important color for me. Today, walking on the beach I watched a small black child 5 or 6 years old playing with his father. He was so cute it was a revelation.

Black is also me now.
With my great grandson Djamal who is new and I like it. Djamal is French, American, Vietnamese, Greek, Belgian, Irish, English, African, Scottish, Russian, Italian, Jewish, Cuban, American.

Black is also me now.”


Niki de Saint Phalle was a sculptor and a painter. Born in France, soon her family moved to America. At the age of 18 she married Harry Mathews, who she had known since she was 11 years old. Her rebelliousness against the conservatives values of her family soon became an internal conflict, as she found herself living the same bourgeois lifestyle that she had attempted to reject. She suffered a nervous breakdown after revealing she was raped by her father in her early childhood. As a form of therapy, she was urged to pursue her painting and in the end she dedicated her life to art.

The Nanas, a French slang term that means “chick” or “babe”, are a series of black and white robust female forms that pay homage to the vital energy of women regardless of race, class or creed.

Niki de Saint Phalle created the Nanas at first as personal translation of the freedom gained after her breakdown. Later the Nanas came to symbolize the free rein of imagination she saw in the world of art and the unlimited possibilities that this freedom of imagination prophesized for women.


According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186
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