“Innovative and kaleidoscopic … This wondrous work does justice to a boundless artist.”

— ★Starred★ review in Publishers Weekly

“The visually splendid book brings to life all the complexities and contradictions of the legendary sculptor, painter, and filmmaker … Rudick adroitly creates a loose narrative of the artist’s unruly life while resisting interpretation.”

— Bruce LaBruce, Bomb

“Ebullient, poignant … Rudick enables the artist to speak for herself, as herself, once again.”


“Rudick’s own questioning as the composer/biographer comes through the book, too, as, like the pages themselves, her brief texts ponder how our lives are constructed (and remembered) in writing.”

Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles

Vanity Fair What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined is profiled in the Vanities section of the February 2022 issue.

T Magazine What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined is on the T List.

The Yale Review Read an excerpt from What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined.

Print Magazine A conversation with Siglio’s Lisa Pearson, on the press and What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined.

Women’s Review of Books Niki’s art from the title page of my book is on the cover of the November/December 2021 issue.


“Books for All the Art Lovers
on Your Gift List”
LA Weekly 

“Five Essential Books to Enliven
Your Art Library”

What Is Now
Known Was Once Only Imagined:
An (Auto)biography
of Niki de Saint Phalle

Published by Siglio Press, February 21, 2022

ORDER from Siglio or D.A.P./Artbook
or from your favorite independent bookstore.

LISTEN Nicole was a guest on the Virtual Memories Show

Known best for her exuberant, often large-scale sculptural works that celebrate the abundance and complexity of female desire, imagination, and creativity, Niki de Saint Phalle viewed making art as a ritual and a performance—a process connecting life to art. This unconventional, illuminated biography, told in the first person in Saint Phalle’s voice and her own hand, dilates large and small moments in Saint Phalle’s remarkable life as an artist who pointedly challenged taboos and societal expectations as she “trespassed” (as she has said) into a male-dominated world that she attempted to redefine on her own terms.

In a kind of collaboration with the artist, Nicole Rudick has assembled a gorgeous and detailed mosaic of Saint Phalle’s visual and textual works from a trove of paintings, drawings, sketches, and writings, many rare or previously unpublished. These confessions, declarations, meditations, and musings were intended to be read, open and accessible. Nevertheless, they trace—in Rudick’s selection and arrangement—the most intimate contours of Saint Phalle’s life. In some works, Saint Phalle articulates herself with startling candor and self-examination; in others, she carefully and slowly unwinds her secrets as she herself wrestles with them. Saint Phalle’s invocation—her “bringing to life,” as she calls it—“is an apt summation,” writes Rudick, “of the overlap of Saint Phalle’s life and art: both a bringing into existence and a bringing to bear. These are visions from the frontiers of consciousness.”

Rudick opens What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined with Saint Phalle’s memory of seeing Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon, which famously tells one story through multiple, contradictory points of view. Rudick—and Saint Phalle—understands that there is always more than one story, and her experimental approach—in giving space to absences and silences as well as repetitions and permutations—suggests that this book is one possible telling, but one in which Saint Phalle’s agency is paramount. It is an erudite, insightful, and generous construction of Saint Phalle’s life that, despite the recognizability of her work, has remained mostly obscured, until now.