t: +353 1 222 5550
t: +353 1 222 5550
You can see the sky or a plant through them. I invite the spectator to look with me through my sculptures’
In the Conservation department we are carrying on another interesting project that concerns the restoration of the Big Bird by French artist Niki de Sainte Phalle. Born in Paris in 1930, Sainte Phalle is known for her exuberant, joyous, brightly painted, figurative sculptures.
In her early years, Saint Phalle began working with polyester resin a material which could be shaped easily but transformed into a hard, smooth, weather-resistant surface. This new technology enabled her to construct large, fantastical figures for display outdoors in public spaces and parks.
However the materials she used damaged her health and in the late 60’s she developed emphysema
She underwent a long period of convalescence which resulted in a change in direction in her art ‘Air has come into my life. Breathing deeply, exercise, walking, feeling closer to nature changed me. These sculptures reflect that change’.
Big Bird is typical of the colourful exuberance and playfulness of de Saint Phalle’s imagery. It belongs to a body of work developed in the early 1980s which the artist has described as her Skinnys.
The bird as a theme has however, a very special place in the artist’s oeuvre. ‘Birds have been a constant theme in my work. Immortal birds. Sad birds, Triumphant birds, The Hungry bird.
Birds are messengers from our world to the next. My Guardian Angel is a Bird’
Our conservation intern, Federica Traversa, is currently studying this artwork to find the best way to restore it by applying new research and techniques within the field of contemporary art conservation. When carrying out our technical examination we learnt that before painting Big Bird, Sainte Phalle made a preparatory drawing on it in pencil. This picture reveals in infrared light, for the first time, the artist’s sketch around the Bird’s eye.
Head of Conservation
Niki de Saint Phalle,
Big Bird, 1982
Polyester Resin and coiled lead iron. Spray painted
polyester with vibrant matt acrylic colours
cm 140(w) x 86 (h) x 77 (d)