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Win-Win Youth Wing

Niki de Saint Phalle and the Tarot Garden

Niki de Saint-Phalle

“Without Death, Life has no meaning” : Niki de Saint Phalle’s death in May 2002 meant the loss of a woman of diverse creative talent. For fans of mosaic though, her great lagacy centers on the huge Cyclops in the Fontainbleu forest near Paris, and her stunning sculpture garden in Italy. The Tarot Garden (Giardino Dei Tarocchi) is an exploration of the human condition whose medium is mosaic on a monumental scale. These almost impossibly brightly coloured combinations of buildings and sculpture reflect the metaphysical qualities represented by the 22 main tarot cards (the major arcana). They’re not concerned with the fortune-telling uses of the cards, rather the elements of life’s experience, personality and self-knowledge they refer to. Work on the garden began in 1979 and the main part of the work was carried out in the 1980s; it was officially opened to the public in May 1998. During construction Niki de Saint Phalle lived in the sphinx-like Empress, a mirror-glassed cavern with kitchen, bedroom and bathroom leading off. The Garden is situated close to the coast in the south of the Italian province of Tuscany. It is about 70 miles (110 kilometres) northwest of Rome, near the town of Capalbio. I won’t pretend that my photos, taken on an overcast afternoon in September, do the works of art justice. However I hope they convey the impact and cumulative power of these wonderfully expressive mosaics. You can choose from the thumbnails below, or start at the fountain and tour through. There are 25 more pictures in galleries two and three, and still more on the Niki de Saint Phalle web site. – Text from the joys of shards website.
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