"For many years now a good deal of my work has been concerned with bringing joy, colour and an aggressive humour and fantasy to light" (Niki de Saint Phalle, The Wounded Animals, New York 1989, unpaged).
Bright, colourful and joyous, Pouf Serpent Bleu bears testimony to Niki de Saint Phalle's playful creative universe. In the wake of the destructive rage characterising her shooting paintings, the artist took a turn toward greater optimism. From the 1960s onwards, she developed an imaginary world of dazzling colours and curvaceous forms, peopled with oversized figures, mythical creatures and archetypal personas. The snake, in particular, became an ever-recurring motif in Niki's oeuvre. It is featured in the Stravinsky Fountain - the work she realised in the early 1980s with her husband and creative partner Jean Tinguely, and in the Giardino dei Tarocchi, a sculpture garden in Southern Tuscany based on Tarot cards. She also recreated it in individual sculptures including Snake (Last Night I Had a Dream), (1968), Snake Lady, before 1983, and used it to inspire the design of her perfume. Pouf Serpent Bleu belongs to a series of works executed between 1980 and the late 1990s that explore the relationship between sculpture and design. Just as Niki's gigantic Nanas blur the boundaries between sculpture and architecture, her Snake Chairs elude clear categorisation. With their showy colours and ironically kitsch appearance, they exemplify her use of art to question and overturn the norms of the bourgeois milieu in which she was raised. Through its multicoloured geometric shapes and the smiling face of the snake, Pouf Serpent Bleu speaks to the artist's consummate skill in manipulating colour and patterning, and to a distinctive blend of imagination and humour.