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The emphasis on the violent gesture in post-war abstract painting culminated in Saint Phalle's Shooting Pictures. She filled polythene bags with paint and enclosed them within layers of plaster against a blockboard backing. Spectators were invited to shoot at these constructions, releasing the paint. This one was shot by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. The moment of action and an emphasis on chance were as important as the finished work. Saint Phalle stopped making these works in 1963, explaining 'I had become addicted to shooting, like one becomes addicted to a drug'.

April 2009