The sculpture is located on the campus of the University of California San Diego. The figurative sculpture is a 14-foot (4.3 m) multicolored bird-like creature, perched atop a 15-foot (4.6 m) tall arch-shaped, vine-covered concrete pedestal. It was erected in February 1983 as *the first of the Stuart Collection of public art projects. The polyester and fiberglass Sun God has become a unique feature on the UCSD campus where the students celebrate since 1984, an annual Sun God Festival.
Niki de Saint Phalle is best known for her oversized figures that embrace contradictory qualities such as good and evil, modern and primitive, sacred and profane, play and terror. Her exaggerated "earth mother" sculptures, the Nanas, playfully explore ancient feminine deities while celebrating modern feminism's efforts to reconsider and revalue the woman's body. De Saint Phalle has made monsters and beasts into architectural forms for playgrounds and schools. These works demonstrate her deep interest in architects like Antoni Gaudi, whose organic and fluid buildings incorporate wild fantasies and highly crafted objects. Her collaboration with the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely on a landmark fountain for the plaza of the Centre Pompidou in Paris is world-renowned. She created a park in northern Italy full of giant sculptures based on Tarot cards; many can be entered and one is a functional residence. Although de Saint Phalle lived near Paris for more than twenty years, her artistic formation has been as much North American as European. She lived in New York from 1933 to 1951 and again in the 1960s when she was prominent in the development of "happenings" and other artistic efforts involving the integration of art and life. She lived and worked in La Jolla from 1992 until her death in 2002. (stuartcollection.ucsd.edu)
(© 2018 NIKI CHARITABLE ART FOUNDATION, All rights reserved. Photo Pietromarchi Art Center)
(Credit: Galerie Mitterrand)
Niki de Saint Phalle (born Catherine-Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle) was also a painter and filmmaker. She was one of the few women artists widely known for monumental sculpture, but also for her commitments. We will examine her works in more detail when we all recover from the festive season in the New Year. In the meantime, enjoy the warmth from her colours.