Happy Valentine’s Day from GoMA!

Valentine’s Day is all about love, so what better way to celebrate than with the work of French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle?

In 1982, the artist was commissioned to create a signature perfume for Jacqueline Cochran. Saint Phalle agreed, but only if she was granted complete artistic control over the bottle’s design and the perfume’s scent.

The limited edition perfume bottle’s design features two sculpted snakes entwined in a sensual embrace. Saint Phalle created these snakes as a way to incorporate her own artistic iconography while representing the product’s characteristics. Snakes have a long history in Saint Phalle’s own artistic practice and are seen in much of her other work. They have also traditionally been a symbol of feminine power and sexuality. The two snakes are coupled together, obviously enjoying themselves. These are qualities that Saint Phalle aimed to portray in her perfume, which was marketed toward women. By including the snakes paired with the perfume’s sultry and potent scent, Saint Phalle inspires those who wear the perfume to embody the confidence and power of the snakes. In this perfume, Saint Phalle encourages feelings of being both ‘seductive’ and ‘optimistic’.

Following the launch of Saint Phalle’s perfume, it was met with major success and is still being sold today. Most of the artist’s original revenue from the perfume sales went on to fund her Tarot Garden in Sicily, which has become one of Saint Phalle’s most famous sculpture collections. If you would like to see more of Niki de Saint Phalle’s work, check out Vache Vase, displayed with the perfume bottles in Domestic Bliss, located in gallery four.

Rileigh Pack, University of Edinburgh student placement, 2023.

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