Everything is arcane in the wonderful Garden of Tarots near Capalbio (Gr), in Tuscany, and yet everything is open and in full view.
Twenty-two giants of steel and cement, covered in colorful ceramics, glass and mirrors – representing the tarot deck’s “Major Arcana” – are locked away, shielded by a double wall of tuff. “Arcane” means “hidden”, and the word’s etymology comes from the Latin verb that means “to defend”, “to shut in”. The statues contain spaces that are hidden, yet can be visited, lived in.
A world inside a world, as the French painter and sculptress Niki de Saint Phalle imagined and designed it. It took her seventeen years, from 1979 to 1996, to create this mysterious universe of bizarre iridescence and playful, unsettling reflections, inspired by the wonders of Antoni Gaudí’s Parc Güell, and by the dream-like architecture of the 16th-century Park of the Monsters, in Bomarzo, Umbria.
The restless artist, with the help of some of the great names of contemporary art – such as Rico Weber, Paul Wiedmer, Sepp Imhof, and first and foremost her husband, Jean Tinguely – strived to give substance to the ghosts hidden in her heart. Now visitors can compare them with their own, enjoying the colorful show under the sky.