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The Tarot Garden

The Tarot Garden is an artistic park in Capalbio (GR) designed by the French-American artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, and populated by statues inspired by the major arcana of the Tarot.

History of the Tarot Garden

Following the inspiration she had during her visit to the Parque Guell by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, later strengthened by her visit to the Bomarzo Garden, Niki de Saint Phalle decided to build the Tarot Garden in 1979.

That place became a magical and spiritual dream of life for her, in the form of twenty-two imposing figures made of steel and cement, covered in glass, mirrors, and coloured ceramics. For more than seventeen years, she was supported by a team of famous names in contemporary art: Rico Weber, Sepp Imhof, Paul Wiedmer, Dok van Winsen, Pierre Marie and Isabelle Le Jeune, Alan Davie, Marino Karella and above all by her husband, Jean Tinguely.

Mario Botta, an architect from Ticino, in collaboration with Roberto Aureli, an architect from Grosseto, designed the entrance pavilion: a thick perimeter wall with a single large circular opening at the centre, designed as a separator from everyday reality, a “threshold” through which to cross into a “magical break” from day-to-day life.

The Tarot Garden: structure

The sculptures are inspired by the major arcana of the Tarot, and are therefore full of symbolic and esoteric meanings. Through the intense and lively colours, through the “spasmodic dilation of forms and radiance inspired by the masters of colour, from Matisse to Picasso, from Kandinskij to Klee”, the full-bodied, explosive sculptures of the Tarot Garden, dressed in “light which transforms the various personalised figures into a fabulous succession of neo-baroque parure”, steal the “attention and senses of the viewer”, who makes an initiatory journey of sorts into the world of symbolism and their inner self.

Celebrated as a work of art unique to its kind, it is a magical corner of Tuscany made of magic, light, and colours.

Visitors enter the garden by crossing a threshold, reaching the large central square occupied by a basin and dominated by the united figures of the Popess and the Magician, the first major arcana of the Tarot marking the start of the path.

Surrounded by greenery and Pierre Marie Le Jeune’s sinuous benches, the square, a large amphitheatre of sorts dominated by the other, very colourful structures, immediately conveys a sense of restlessness and enchantment, fascination, playfulness, and the spectacular visionary atmosphere animating the entire Garden.

The roads branching off from the main square lead to different itineraries which follow the sinuous formation of the land, going up or down along the ridge. Even the streets play a crucial role in the art: Niki de Saint Phalle has in fact indelibly etched her thoughts, memories, numbers, quotes, drawings, messages of hope and faith into the cement paving, unravelling a path which is once again not just physical, but above all spiritual.

The Tarot Garden is a truly unique location, a place absolutely worth visiting for those looking for a touch of magic.