Clarice Rivers1964 by Niki De Saint Phalle And Larry Rivers

In the 1960s, the Franco-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle had a close relationship with the painter Larry Rivers and his wife Clarice, whose pregnancy inspired Saint Phalle to create her first Nana sculpture, a bulging, voluptuous female body, from papier-mâché and wire netting.

At the time, the word “nana” was French slang for a broad or chick, and as the artist’s friend Barbara Rose would write, “the metaphor was obvious but timely: women were perceived as brainless sex objects, child-bearing machines.”

The nanas would become Saint Phalle’s trademark, expanding into public sculpture and reappearing in her drawings and illustrations. Picture above is Clarice Rivers (1964), a collage Saint Phalle made with Larry Rivers, who drew Clarice’s face.

Tomorrow we premiere a new musical film based on Saint Phalle’s drawings.

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