“Who qualifies for biography was always the romantic notion of the Lone Genius, who was always white and male. Women were not taught to think of themselves in that individualistic way.”
Author, critic and editor Nicole Rudick joins the show to celebrate the publication of her amazing book, What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined: An (Auto)Biography of Niki de Saint Phalle (Siglio Press). We get into Niki de Saint Phalle’s word-paintings & what they tell us about the arts of revelation and concealment, Nicole’s shifting concept of biography & the tyranny of the archives, the role of the audience/reader in art, and why Nicole’s first big post-pandemic trip will be to Niki’s Tarot Garden in Tuscany. We also talk about the role of women in biography and how women have to write themselves into history, Nicoles own history with art, how she found herself in NYC, the copy of Gary Panter’s Jimbo that blew her mind, why she kept Ruth Scurr’s book on John Aubrey beside her throughout the time she wrote the book, her post-lockdown aesthetic overload at the Art Institute of Chicago, and how Niki de Saint Phalle continues to reach us decades after her death. Give it a listen! And go read What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined: An (Auto)Biography of Niki de Saint Phalle!
“I knew enough of Niki’s work to understand that she put her life into it and that you could use it to tell a story.”
“I love all of her work. I love the way that it progresses and changes. She never wanted to repeat herself; she kept moving forward.”
“As with an artwork, the person who’s looking at this book has to participate in it. There’s thinking, there’s looking, there’s reflection.”
About our Guest
Nicole Rudick is an independent writer and editor based in New York. She has been an editor at The Paris Review, Artforum, and Bookforum. In 2018, she served as interim editor of The Paris Review. She edited the Spring and Summer issues and hosted the first season of the magazine’s podcast. Nicole’s writing has appeared in a wide variety of publications: in periodicals such as The New York Review of Books, T Magazine, The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Bookforum, and The Paris Review; online at The New Yorker, Hyperallergic, and Boston Review; and in catalogues published by the New Museum, RISD Museum of Art, and Karma and Canada galleries. In 2015, Nicole won the prestigious ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for editing Sam Stephenson’s Paris Review essay on John Coltrane’s biographer, Dr. Cuthbert Simpkins. Her new book is What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined: An (Auto)Biography of Niki de Saint Phalle.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at my house on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Author photo of Nicole by Matteo Mobilio. Drawing of Nicole by Lauren Weinstein. Photos of Nicole in my library by me. It’s all on my instagram.