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Arbre serpents
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photo by Heather Marie Osborn

Located: Latzer Fountain (n2) - Download map
Date completed: 1999
Origin: France
Medium: Polyester, glass, and mirror mosaic
Height: 11 ft.
Weight: 1,102 lbs.
Installation Sponsored by Sachs Properties

Arbre serpents (The Serpent Tree), is a complex fountain that combines plant and animal life into one, and is based symbolically on the Tree of Life at Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. The snake appears in Niki’s early images of femininity. In the 1980’s, Niki adopted serpents as her signature motif for a perfume she produced to finance her Tarot Garden.

Additional Information

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Many pieces in our exhibit are accompanied by a free audio tour and podcast. Links to the audio files are provided below, as well as a transcript of the recording.

Who is Niki? (mp3)
Phone: (314) 558-4357 - 17#

Catherine Marie-Agnes de Saint Phalle was born in 1930 to an aristocratic family in France and raised in New York City. She was a somewhat rebellious child, who preferred to be called Niki. In her early twenties she suffered a nervous breakdown and turned to visual art as a means of survival. Niki became the only female member of Europes most important post-World War II art movement, the New Realists. She collaborated with, and later married, the Swiss avant-garde artist Jean Tinguely.

Niki was a prolific, self-taught artist. Her work included illustrations and shooting paintings on which she fired a rifle at bags full of paint attached to wood or canvas. Niki used tales and myths as a springboard to create fantastic creatures of her imagination. Working freely and spontaneously, she made joyous works to celebrate the diversity of life.

Niki's art is well-known throughout Europe, South America, and Asia, where she traveled for inspiration. This exhibition provides just a brief introduction to her vast creativity. The playful, larger-than-life sculptures presented here are mostly her mosaics and later creations she made after moving to San Diego in the 1990s.

Niki's Tarot Garden
Niki's Tarot Garden in Tuscany
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About Niki
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