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“It gives me more satisfaction to do something beautiful for others and for me than to have, to have, to have… more and more, more and more”

Niki de Saint Phalle was a French-American artist who grew up having an abusive and violent family history: she described her childhood as “privilege and horror” and her home as “hell”. What can we expect from a child like that? Well, she found the way of art, as a catharsis. She’s widely famous for her “Tirs” – a series of paintings she made by shooting with an actual gun at bags of paint that were placed on the canvas, a performative ritual with a liberating value. Later, Saint Phalle began experimenting with sculptures on gigantic scale: her most significant work is the large picture park called the Tarot Garden, a monumental sculptural installation that recalls the sixteenth-century tradition of monstrous gardens, which includes Bomarzo’s Monster Park. The Tarot Garden is the example of how art can alter the perception of reality: through the metaphor of the 22 major arcana in the form of sculptures, she created a visionary and playful space that reminds of the imaginative power of childhood, and at the same time represent the highest sense of art, as sublimation of pain.

“If life is a card game, we are born without knowing the rules. Nevertheless, we are all called to play a hand. Are tarot cards just a game or do they indicate a philosophy of life?”