de Saint Phalle or di Suvero?

“I feel a sudden urge to sing
The kind of ditty that invokes the Spring!”

Spring is here and two fab exhibitions have just been announced for Chicago

“The night is young, the skies are clear
So if you wanna go walkin’, dear

It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely

It’s di Suvero, it’s de Saint Phalle, it’s de-sinful….

I understand the reason why
You’re sentimental, ’cause so am I

de Saint Phalle, it’s di Suvero, it’s de-sculpture
in da Garfield Park, in Millennium Park, it’s delicious!

Time marches on and soon it’s plain
de Saint Phalle’s won your heart

and di Suvero your brain

It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s di Suvero, it’s de Saint Phalle,
it’s de-lovely

2 press releases


The Extraordinary Sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle
At the Garfield Park Conservatory May 4—
October 31, 2007

Coming to Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory this spring will be more than 30 extraordinary and monumental outdoor sculptures by the internationally-renowned artist, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Entitled Niki in the Garden, this spectacular exhibition of Saint Phalle’s imaginative artwork will be beautifully displayed in the building and on the grounds of the Garfield Park Conservatory from May 4 through
October 31, 2007.

Niki in the Garden is presented by the Chicago Park District, The Boeing Company, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Office of Tourism and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism, as part of the citywide celebration, Art of Play: Summer in Chicago 2007.

Massive in scale, Saint Phalle’s magical and joyful works include enormous animals, mythical figures, totems, sports heroes and most famously, her Nanas—oversized, often dancing, powerful women celebrating life. Some of the pieces reach as high as eighteen feet and span up to twenty-five feet long and most invite sitting, climbing or crawling through their secret passages. The fiberglass sculptures are brilliantly embellished with mirrors, glass, semi-precious stones and ceramic mosaics that come to life in all kinds of light. …

Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptures will be found throughout the grounds of the Garfield Park Conservatory, located at 300 N. Central Park Avenue, 15 minutes west of downtown Chicago. The Conservatory is open every day from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. and on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $5 per adult, children are free.

Niki de Saint Phalle was born in 1930 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and raised in New York City. A passionately imaginative and self-taught artist, Saint Phalle was extremely prolific, creating a stunning repertoire of work that includes sculptures, paintings and illustrations. She is best known for her work on the sensual and overtly womanly Nanas, which is French for “babes” or “chicks.” Calling the large-scale sculptures and architectural installations “heralds of a new matriarchal age,” Saint Phalle boldly personified her idea of feminine empowerment in these uninhibited, colorful Nanas. Their frenetic dancing, outrageous shapes and shades have appeared in museums, advertisements and outdoor sculptural exhibits around the world. Other notable works include Hon in Stockholm (1966), the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris (1983), Noah’s Ark in Jerusalem (1998), Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Escondido (1999—2003) and her most important work, the Tarot Garden in Tuscany (1980—1998). In the early 1990s, Saint Phalle settled in southern California, and in 2000 she was awarded the acclaimed 12th Premium Imperial Prize in the sculpture category, considered the Nobel Prize in the art world. She remained in California until her death in 2002.

Niki in the Garden is made possible by the Niki Charitable Art Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the late artist’s ideals and the preservation of her legacy for future generations. The Foundation is headed by Bloum Cardenas, the artist’s granddaughter.

The Garfield Park Conservatory is located at 300 N. Central Park Avenue and is easily accessible by automobile or public transportation.Free parking is available just south of the Conservatory’s main entrance.

For more information about ‘Niki in the Garden,’ visit

It’s di Suvero!

Four Large-Scale Sculptures by Acclaimed Artist Mark di Suvero
To Be Installed in Millennium Park for One Year
April 17, 2007—April 1, 2008

Chicago’s Millennium Park will come alive this season when four large-scale sculptures by the prominent abstract expressionist sculptor Mark di Suvero grace the Park’s Boeing Galleries from April 17, 2007 through April 1, 2008. Framing the dramatic art and architecture of Millennium Park and juxtaposed against the stainless steel lines of the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, these soaring sculptures will enhance one of Chicago’s most popular public spaces—Millennium Park.

Shang, 1984-85, Steel, 25’ x 19’ x 21’ 9”

A prolific sculptor, di Suvero’s dynamic works have punctuated landscapes and urban environments for half a century. His arresting pieces have consistently drawn critical acclaim, confronting audiences with their audacious colors and shapes, and mesmerizing even the casual passer-by with their subtle energy and intricate proportion.

In Millennium Park, two pieces will be placed in the North Boeing Gallery and two in the South Boeing Gallery. The largest, Orion, a bright orange sculpture, measuring 53 feet high and weighing close to 12 tons, will sit in the North Boeing Gallery along with Johnny Appleseed, a 23’6” foot high structure with two large steam shovels intersecting its steel base. In the South Boeing Gallery are two kinetic steel pieces, Shang, a 25 foot tall sculpture, and Yoga, a 29’6” tall sculpture. Children are invited to climb on the suspended steel beam in Shang that acts as a swing and everyone can see Yoga’s graceful movements as it turns in the wind.

“Mark di Suvero was invited to be the first sculptor to exhibit his work in the Boeing Galleries, given his reputation as one of America’s most influential artists,” said Helen Doria, Executive Director, Millennium Park. “Visitors can interact with his work just as they do with the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate—the permanent art in the Park. That connection to the art has become part of the essential spirit of Millennium Park, making visitors want to return again and again.”

Johnny Appleseed

A companion exhibition of photography of di Suvero’s sculptures taken by the legendary art dealer, Richard Bellamy, will be on view in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Chicago Rooms, located at 78 E. Washington Street, from June 8 through October 1, 2007.

Mark di Suvero was born in Shanghai, China in 1933, where his father became part of the Italian consular service. At the outbreak of World War II, his family moved to San Francisco and he became a U.S. citizen. In New York in 1957, di Suvero began using scrap from demolished buildings to create what he called “cubist, open spatial sculptures.” In 1960, he was injured in an accident at a day job which left him paralyzed. Confined to a wheelchair for a year, di Suvero learned to use an electric arc welder and began to show his first stainless steel work in a New York gallery. In the 1960’s, he mastered the use of the crane, acetylene torch and welder, then, bought his own crane and began to use it to bend and assemble steel for his art. In the late 1960’s, di Suvero worked on and off for over two years making sculpture in the Chicago area, creating several of his significant works from that period. Di Suvero’s sculpture has been shown widely in the United States and Europe. He currently divides his time between large industrial studios in California, New York and Chalon-sur-Saone, France.

For more information about Mark di Suvero/Millennium Park,


Mark di Suvero/Millennium Park is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Millennium Park, in cooperation with Millennium Park, Inc., and is sponsored by The Boeing Company with support from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The sculpture is available for all to enjoy free of charge.


Maybe I’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the work of di Suvero. Or do I prefer my I-beams on the sides of buildings?

Remember, Milwaukeeans voted against di Suvero. So I really should like his work. (That’s a joke. I heart Milwaukee. It’s just not Chicago.

Of course, Chicago is not Paris; where Niki de Saint Phalle with Jean Tinguely, some folks from the Middle Ages and others, created a great public space and fountain.

The Stravinsky Fountain near the Centre Pompidou (pompous dude?) in Paris. I’ve loved it since the day it opened, I might have even been there that day. Do you hear music? That’s the back of the Firebird. As in Suite. The fountain is also next to IRCAM, a center of avant garde experimental art music, and for the science of music and sound.

Speaking of music again, a tip of de-hat to Cole Porter.


(Aren’t you glad Boeing is headquartered in Chicago? I am. Some objected when the Mayor gave them enticements to move here. Seems they’re giving us enticements now.)

update: A little more di Suvero di light here.

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