Nike de Saint Phalle Tirs: Reloaded

As part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, contemporary artists Lara Schnitger, Matthew Monahan, Henry Taylor, Liz Craft, Noah Davis, Karon Davis, Alexandra Grant, Lipschutz & Lipschutz, Alex Becerra, Brigitte Zieger, and others will reinterpret and pay homage to Nouveau Realiste artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s 1962 Los Angeles shooting paintings (“tirs”). As Ed Kienholz originally acted as gun handler, Noah Kienholz, Ed’s son, will handle guns. New works will be shot up on January 22, 2012 at High Noon on a private rifle range. Curated by Yael Lipschutz, Niki de Saint Phalle: Tirs Reloaded is generously supported by the Getty Foundation, the Niki Charitable Trust, and The California/International Arts Foundation. The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival is organized by LA<>ART and the Getty Research Institute, and made possible by grants from the Getty Foundation.

Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tirs: An Introduction

March 4, 1962, 4:00 pm: Niki’s first shooting event in Los Angeles. Held on the Sunset Strip, in a parking lot behind the Everett Ellin Gallery, who sponsored the happening. Kienholz and Tinguely acted as gun handlers. Among the crowd of 150 were figures such as John Cage, Ed Ruscha, Leo Castelli and Lawrence Lipton, poet laureate of the Beat Generation and writer of The Holy Barbarians.

An outgrowth of her earlier “target pictures,” created in response to the work of her friend Jasper Johns, Niki de Saint Phalle’s “shooting paintings” are often understood to be a response to both Abstract Expressionism, and the state of the Euro-American art world in the late 1950s. The strategy of shooting added various layers of meaning to her practice: the expressionistic, physical gesture; the feminist gesture; the sexual gesture; the glamorous gesture—she wore an all white shooting suit. In California, the presence of the movie industry (actors and directors such as Jane Fonda and John Houseman were in attendance) lent Saint Phalle’s gestures a Hollywood-esque dimension—Saint Phalle’s role as artist/shooter evoking the movie stuntman; her Malibu canvas featuring a scene from the film King Kong. There is also a highly social, communal-like gesture at work: shooting ‘outings’ included the participation of prominent artists and figures of the day, such as John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Arman, Pontus Hulten, and John Ashbery. As spectators and shooters, these crews would complete the paintings together, happening-style. Below is a link to footage of Niki’s Malibut Hills shooting performance. It follows shortly after the footage of her partner, Swiss artist Jean Tinguely’s Study for the End of the Wold, which was done in the Nevada desert, during the same 1962 trip Tinguely and Saint Phalle made to California. Many of the same guests attended both performances.

Footage of Niki de Saint Phalle’s 1962 Mailibu Hills Tirs

[follows footage of Niki’s partner Jean Tinguely’s Study for the End of the World]

About The Getty Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival

Los Angeles was a key international birthplace of performance art. Engaging the innovative spirit of that period and LA's vibrant contemporary art scene, the Performance and Public Art Festival will transform Southern California over eleven days (January 19-29, 2012) during Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. Featuring more than 30 major performances and large-scale outdoor projects, the festival will include new commissions, reinventions, and restagings inspired by the radical and trailblazing public and performance works that were created by artists during the Pacific Standard Time era. Performances and projects will be located at institutions and sites throughout Southern California, in close proximity to more than two dozen Pacific Standard Time exhibitions. The festival is organized by the Getty Research Institute and LA><ART. support is provided by the Getty Foundation.