This and That: Niki de Saint Phalle and The Princess Diaries

by Brandon Zech November 18, 2021

“This and That” is an occasional series of paired observations. See past “This and That” posts here. – Ed.

Today: Balloon painting

Artwork by artist Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle, Shooting Painting American Embassy, 1961, Paint, plaster, wood, plastic bags, shoe, twine, metal seat, axe, metal
can, toy gun, wire mesh, shot pellets, and other objects on wood. Collection of MoMA, Gift of the Niki Charitable Art Foundation. Image © Niki Charitable Art Foundation

From MoMA:

Saint Phalle created Shooting Painting American Embassy during Homage to David Tudor, a performance program she staged, with the artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jean Tinguely, at the theater of the American Embassy in Paris on June 20, 1961. Over the course of the evening, each artist deployed strategies of indeterminacy—actions whose results are left open to chance—to make works onstage in front of an audience.

For her contribution, Saint Phalle hired a sharpshooter to fire a rifle at paint-filled balloons attached to a slab of wood covered in white plaster and paint with various objects encrusted in it; the bursting balloons created streams of brightly colored pigment that poured down over the work’s surface. A toy gun, a bucket seat, a hatchet, and an old shoe are among the items that were absorbed and reimagined as the stuff of painting.

The Menil Collection in Houston is currently presenting a solo exhibition of Saint Phalle’s work. Read our review of that show here.

balloon painting in The Princess Diaries

A scene from Disney’s The Princess Diaries


No matter how original, innovative or crazy your idea, someone else is also working on that idea. Furthermore, they are using notation very similar to yours. – Bruce J. MacLennan

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Sharla November 19, 2021 - 13:46

Can’t believe I didn’t realize this iconic comparison sooner.


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