Saint Phalle's 'Nanas' open outdoor exhibit in US capital

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The Independent Culture

Statues by self-taught French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle on Wednesday kicked off a series of outdoor exhibits by women artists that will use the streets of Washington as their gallery.

Four huge statues by Saint Phalle, three of the artist's signature roly-poly "Nanas" - French slang which translates roughly to "girlies" - and one in homage to basketball star Michael Jordan, were dedicated Wednesday on New York Avenue in the US capital, just a few blocks from the White House.

The three-meter-tall (three yards) statues will bring color to a patch of the Washington street for a year, kicking off a series of outdoor exhibits organized by the National Museum of Woman in the Arts that will run until 2015.

Saint Phalle, who died in 2002, was born Catherine Marie-Agnes Fal de Saint Phalle in 1930 in a Paris suburb. Her mother was American and her father a French banker.

She spent most of her youth in the United States but returned to France in the 1950s, where she eventually met Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely who would become her second husband.

Among the best known works by Saint Phalle are the "Giardino dei Tarocchi," based on figures from Tarot cards and exhibited in Tuscany, Italy.

The Niki Museum in Japan is dedicated entirely to Saint Phalle's works, which are also on display in leading European and US museums.

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