St. Louis Regional Arts Commission

Public Art Details

Ricardo Cat

Artist: Niki de Saint Phalle
Region: Laumeier - Open Fields
Location: Laumeier Sculpture Park
Address: 12580 Rott Road, Saint Louis, MO 63127
Artist Bio:


Dimensions: 20'
Year completed: 1999
Material: Urethane skin on steel, ceramic tile, stained glass, mirrors, stones in epoxy and silicone grouts
Donor: Laumeier Sculpture Park commission


Niki de Saint Phalle was a French sculptor, painter, and illustrator who was best known for her playful sculptures of brightly painted female figures called "nanas" or "babes." Born near Paris in 1930, Niki de Saint Phalle traveled and worked around the world, joining the New Realist art movement in Europe and becoming its only female member. There she met fellow artist Jean Tinguely in 1960, whom she later married after ending her first marriage to American Harry Matthews. In 1979 Saint Phalle began work on her biggest project, a monumental sculpture park called The Tarot Garden. Located in Tuscany, Italy, the garden contains oversized “nana” sculptures of the symbols found on Tarot cards. Each sculpture was created in Saint Phalle’s signature style, with rounded limbs and voluptuously curved bodies painted in bright colors.

Her “nana” sculptures explore the various roles of women and celebrate the bodies of females and children. The interactive sculpture Ricardo Cat resembles these "nana" scultpures and takes the form of a colorful, whimsical cat. It doubles as a playhouse for children, inviting them to climb its curved arms and sit on its flat lap. Ricardo Cat is located in Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Missouri. As a consequence of years of inhaling toxic polyester fumes while working on her sculptures, Saint Phalle died in her California home on May 21, 2002.

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