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Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Tuscany with Betsy Tumasonis (online)

Join us via Zoom on Oct 25, from 2pm-4pm, as Betsy Tumasonis talks about Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Giardino dei Tarocchi”: A French Artist and her Italian Sculpture Garden. 

Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002) was a French artist and sculptor who associated in the early 1960s with the French Nouveaux Realistes group. She experimented with assemblages made of bizarre collections of objects, evoking a Dadaist sense of the absurd.

With a growing awareness of feminist concerns, she began to make sculptures on the theme of the female body, often with explicit references to female sexuality. Her work became increasingly large in size and she became one of the few women artists of the 20th century to make sculpture on a monumental scale.

In 1980 she began work on her “Giardino dei Tarocchi” (Tarot Garden) in Tuscany. She filled the park-like property with enormous colourful otherworldly figures based on images from the Tarot deck (fortune-telling cards). A stroll through the garden is a magical experience.

Betsy Tumasonis (Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria) received her doctorate in Art History from the University of California at Berkeley. After teaching in the United States for several years, she immigrated to Canada in 1981 and joined the Department of History in Art (now the Department of Art History and Visual Studies) at the University of Victoria. She took early retirement in 1999.

At UVic she taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on art of the 19th and 20th centuries (especially European art). She also served as the Chair of the Department.

In 1989, she was awarded the UVic Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching and in 1992 she received a 3M Teaching Fellowship. (This is a teaching award open to all 39,000 university professors in Canada, regardless of discipline. Ten were bestowed in 1992.)


The Sunday Art Lectures are sponsored by the Gallery Associates in support of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.