As it happens in life, I find myself less than 15 minutes away from Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden. This time I will show you her numbers.
“Il giardino dei tarocchi,” signs point. If one has made an (amateur) career out of playing Austro-Hungarian card game tarock (here a quick, not very well-played round to get an idea), one pricks one’s ears. Alas, what is meant here is tarot, which must be the origin of tarock cards as well.
No matter how often I visit, I always discover something new. But it was only now as I was searching in my archives for photos of numbers from the Garden that I paid proper attention to this board, consisting of 50 numbered tiles, placed on the sculpture called Tree of Life with grinning snakes for branches:
I have just read it from the first to the last for the first time. It describes her love for fellow artist and partner Jean Tinguely as it progressed in time. She does this in a very intimate, revealing manner. It feels like reading her diary. Or blog.
I wish to show you the tiles in more detail, that’s why I have divided them up into groups and wrote text out where not fully visible. I apologize for confusion and unlevelness. There is order to this madness, I promise. If you have patience, you can find all 50 tiles and read her story. Click on a photo and see it grow.
A collection of other numbers from the Giardino.
Here is a very informative article in The New Yorker if you wish to know more about her life and art. She suffered greatly and we could say that in a way her art was her salvation – if she hadn’t destroyed her lungs in the process by working with toxic polyester.