Les Trois Grâces

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For the three graces from Greek mythology, see Charites.
Les Trois Grâces
English: The Three Graces
De Saint Phalle Three Graces.jpg
Artist Niki de Saint Phalle
Year 1999 (1999)
Type fiberglass & mosaic
Location National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., United States
Coordinates 38°54′1.5″N 77°1′44.44″W / 38.900417°N 77.0290111°W / 38.900417; -77.0290111
Owner Niki Charitable Art Foundation

Les Trois Grâces is a set of three public artworks by French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle. The Three Graces are part of the National Museum of Women in the Arts New York Avenue Sculpture Project.[1]


Keeping in the classic style of Niki de Saint Phalle's work, Les Trois Grâces are three large sculptures of voluptuous women (a creation that de Saint Phalle calls a 'Nana') who appear to be dancing. Made of fiberglass, one Nana is covered in white, one yellow and the other is black mosaic tiles, ranging in heights of 12 feet to 15 feet.[2] They all wear elaborate bathing suits in designs such as hearts, fish, instruments and other multiple colors schemes. A whimsical set of sculptures, the three figures have their arms raised as if ballet dancing, each has one foot on the ground and another raised up. They are Saint Phalle's own version of The Three Graces.[3]

New York Avenue Sculpture Project[edit]

Les Trois Grâces are the first of many sculptures being installed for the Project by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. By 2015 a selection of sculptures will be installed along New York Avenue from 13th Street to 9th Street, in the heart of Mount Vernon Square. The museums efforts are in part to bring "character" to an area where "there is a lot of good stuff going on," due to revitalization programs in the neighborhood. de Saint Phalle's works, four in total, are the first in a series of installations. The museums installation of de Saint Phalle's iconic pop art works are meant to be contrasting to the traditional sculpture that graces the streets and squares of Washington.[2]

These works will remain up for one year, before being returned to the artists foundation.[4]


The works arrived and were installed in mid-April 2010 by way of flat-bed semi-truck. The pieces were removed from their custom crates, handled and installed by hand.[5]


Les Trois Grâces, along with the other de Saint Phalle sculptures in the project, were dedicated at 1:30 p.m. on April 28, 2010., with an evening reception within the museum. Dr. Jill Biden, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jack Evans, National Museum of Women in the Arts founder Wilhelmina Holladay and de Saint Phalle's granddaughter Bloum Cardenas, along with members of the D.C. BID, District of Columbia Department of Transportation, D.C. Office of the Planning, among others, attended the ribbon cutting.[1][2]

Racial unity[edit]

de Saint Phalle believed that the works represented unity among the races.[4]


The entire selection of de Saint Phalle's works are removed during the winter for conservation purposes, only to reappear in the Spring.[4]



The Washington Posts Jacqueline Trescott described Les Trois Grâces as a "splash of pop art, as exaggerated as Las Vegas showgirls."[2]


Fellow Post writer and art critic Blake Gopnik described the pieces as being "less weighty than what we hope to find inside our museums." Glopnik believed the pieces were nothing like the Picasso or van Gogh works that are often expected. "They are probably best enjoy at a nice downtown clip of 15 or 20 mph." [4]

Gopnik also touches on the idea of the works being from a woman-based museum: "Wouldn't you imagine that when a women's museum makes its most public statement yet, it would avoid any hint of decor or fluff?" Describing de Saint Phalle's works as "scary and aggressive" versus what others often describe as jubilant and goofy. Overall, he describes the works as plop art.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Museum of Women in the Arts (2010). "Fact Sheet" (PDF). New York Ave Sculpture Project at National Museum of Women in the Arts. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved 8 Feb 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jacqueline Trescott (February 24, 2010). "National Museum of Women in the Arts to turn D.C. corridor into sculpture alley". Style (The Washington Post). Retrieved 8 Feb 2011. 
  3. ^ National Museum of Women in the Arts (2010). "Images" (PDF). New York Ave Sculpture Project at National Museum of Women in the Arts. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved 8 Feb 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Blake Gopnik (April 28, 2010). "Sculptures add color to New York Avenue, but are they art?". Style (The Washington Post). Retrieved 8 Feb 2011. 
  5. ^ Broad Strokes (2010). "The Three Graces are HERE!". National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved 9 Feb 2011. 

External links[edit]