Chicos al arte: we are inspired by Niki de Saint-Phalle’s “Nanas”

We introduce you to the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle: painter, sculptor, printmaker, architect, performer, experimental filmmaker, set designer. Feminist and defender of cultural minorities, it is in the city of Nice (South of France) where she begins to produce work in a prolific way during her convalescence after a psychiatric crisis. Out of affection for this city on the Côte d’Azur, she decided to make an important donation to its Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC).

Niki de Saint Phalle en su estudio © Cordon Press

The only woman who is a member of the Nouveau réalisme movement that claims “the poetic recycling of the urban, industrial and advertising real” started in 1960 by Pierre Restany together with Yves Klein, Christo, Arman, César and which had its cradle in the city of Nice. Creator of the famous Shots, performance-works that she painted shooting with a carbine on little bags of paint.

She is also one of the first female artists dedicated to making public, monumental, and livable art that exceeds the physical limits of museums and is accessible to all. An art that brings joy and color to the public space.

© Hannover, Germany, Niki de Saint Phalle: Nanas ph: JuergenG

The «Nanas» are voluptuous, fertile and colorful women that at first she makes with mâché paper and fabrics and, later, with polyester to achieve a more brilliant polychrome.

Up side down ©Ville de Nice / Muriel Anssens

The proposal of Chicos al arte is to be inspired by these female bodies, free and in movement, to enter the world of sculpture through modeling. We will experiment with geometric and organic shapes, with positions, balance, shapes that we will fill with color.

Discover through the movement of our hands and make tangible what we imagine.


-Cold porcelain

-Paints (watercolors or acrylics)



-Wooden sticks

-a piece of cardboard

We start with a black and white photocopy so that children can put color on it and begin to appropriate through the color of the human shapes and then model.

Then the fun part begins! modeling with porcelain. We suggest that you model a woman’s body in the manner of Niki’s Nanas.

It is important to guide the children, orienting them: What is the shape of the head? and the body? So that they go by parts like that is easier. Let them associate the parts of the body with geometric shapes.

The cardboard can serve as a base and incorporate it into the sculpture.

We explain “the chorizo ??technique” that helps a lot in modeling and that the boys may know if they like cooking (it is used for gnocchi, to decorate pasta frola, for example) …

We tell them that “the dough seam” is done with a wooden stick to join small parts (the arms to the body, or the hair to the head)

If it is necessary, insert chopped sticks so that the sculpture is supported, in general it is necessary to help them.

It is also good to make a porcelain base where to insert the figure. Because it can be difficult to stick it to the cardboard.

The parts can be glued with plastic.

Finally you can not miss the color! moment that children really enjoy … Painting with acrylic or tempera. If they are well pigmented watercolors, they also work and it looks very nice! Cardboard can also function as a background and you can intervene with color.

Seeing the works they produced together is a beautiful experience. A moment of exchange in which we see the variety in the choices of the girls: one decided to make the woman very upright with a pet, another as a super colorful high relief, another in a fountain citing the famous sources of Niki …

Chicos al arte: siguiendo los trazos de Hans Hartung