Last Night I Had a Dream

Some of my drawings look like those of mad people. Don’t we all have madness in us? Some of us are able to express it more easily.

In the late 1960s Saint Phalle returned to the mythical ideas and creatures of her early paintings. She began to create narrative groupings in both sculpture and drawing that once more drew upon her her dreams and vivid imagination. In 1968 Saint Phalle made an eighteen-part mystical relief, Last Night I Had a Dream, comprised of remembered moments from a dream including dancing nanas, serpents and monsters. The relief, on display here, was first shown in 1968 at her solo show at the Galerie Alexandre Iolas in Paris.

Saint Phalle’s drawings are like pages of a diary. She mixes text and image to reveal her innermost thoughts and fears in works that retain a certain irony and humour by combining reality with her imaginary creatures. Although deeply personal to the artist, her drawings and sculptural reliefs have a universality of expression. They illustrate a joy of life, exuberance and the depth of human emotion. In these works Saint Phalle revisits the flat, naïve and child-like style used in her early paintings.

Although much of Saint Phalle’s work came from individual circumstance, through her drawings she transferred private thought and imagination to the public realm. They also reveal some of the motivations behind the iconic Nana series. Sweet Sexy Clarice 1968, a drawing dedicated to Clarice Rivers (wife of the artist Larry Rivers), shows Clarice drawn as a Nana. They pre-empt the publication of her autobiography, Mon Secret1993, one of the most valuable insights into her upbringing and work.

Works in this room

Last Night I had a Dream1968–88
Painted polyester
Various dimensions
Niki Charitable Art Foundation

Clarissa 1964
650 x 510 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

Face/Self Portrait 1963–4
780 x 580 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

What do you like about me most? 1970
Silk-screen
500 x 653 mm
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

La reve de Diane 1970
Lithograph
600 x 835 mm
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

You are my lover for ever and never 1968
Silk-screen          
400 x 600 mm
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

I like you rather a lot you fool 1970
Silk-screen
500 x 650 mm
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

Why don’t you love me? 1968
Sik-screen
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

Sweet Sexy Clarice 1968
590 x 740 mm
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

Dear Diana, I had a marvellous time 1969
Lithograph
564 x 755 mm
Donation de l’artiste. Collection Mamac, Nice

My love what are you doing? 1968
Pen and gouache on paper
493 x 610 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

My love we won’t… 1968
Gouache, pen and collage on paper
493 x 610 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

Last night I had a dream 1968
Pen, pencil and gouache on paper
500 x 700 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

Our love was a beautiful flower 1969
Silk-screen
500 x 574 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

Nana power 1970
Lithograph
760 x 560 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

Nana power 1970
Silk-screen
760 x 560 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

My love what are you doing? 1968
Pen and gouache on paper
493 x 610 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE

My love we won’t… 1968
Gouache, pen and collage on paper
493 x 610 mm
Collection Sprengel Museum, Hannover, DE