Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Tarot Garden

The Tarot Garden of Niki De Saint-Phalle lies just off the coast of Tuscany in a wooded area connected to an old quarry.
Niki De Saint-Phalle was initially inspired by the Park Guell of Gaudi in Barcelona which she visited as a child, as well as the fabulous garden of Bomarzo outside of Rome. With the help of many artisans and laborers from around the world, Niki spent 18 years planning and constructing the sculptures of the Garden - basing them on figures of the Tarot. For a time she lived inside of the giant Empress figure - known also as the Sphinx - designing and supervising construction. Her husband, the artist Jean Tinguely, assisted with much of the work and built kinetic sculptures that are motion activated by your strolls in their proximity.

The Garden was must-see goal of our trip to Italy and we drove many miles from Assisi to see it one day. We stopped in the old Umbrian hill-town of Orvieto on the way and, as the hours drifted by, we realized we were "cutting it close"! It was almost 7pm when we made it to the coast and, after despairing of finding the place at all, we arrived at the Garden parking lot nestled in at the end of a country lane. I bounded up the hill and jumped for joy to see that we still had a half-hour before closing!

To visit the website of the Tarot Garden, go to
There are many books on the work and life of Niki. Notably, Niki De Saint Phalle:
My Art, My Dreams
an autobiography with assistance by Carla Schulz-Hoffman, and
Pierre Descargues

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