one of many favorite ladies, ever. a tremendous talent, an irrepressible spirit and a rare and true visionary. peerless in an art world that largely left her unrecognized in the early years, relative to her (male) “peers”. an extraordinary visual poet, who liked to get her hands dirty, confront her demons, and convey the power of touch and physicality and relations at every turn. all the weighty mess of us. standing under her massive “maman” spider that took over the public square in copenhagen coinciding with her retrospective at the louisiana museum in humlebaek stands as one of my favorite anecdotes from my travels.
excerpts from the nytimes article:
“I have a religious temperament,” Ms. Bourgeois, a professed atheist, said about the emotional and spiritual energy that she poured into her work. “I have not been educated to use it. I’m afraid of power. It makes me nervous. In real life, I identify with the victim. That’s why I went into art.”
At Tate Modern: Louise Bourgeois, “The Destruction of the Father” (1974)© Louise Bourgeois. Courtesy Cheim And Read, Galerie Karsten Greve, and Galerie Hauser & Wirth
“Her nightmarish tableau of 1974, “The Destruction of the Father,” for example, is a table in a stagily lighted recess, which holds an arrangement of breastlike bumps, phallic protuberances and other biomorphic shapes in soft-looking latex that suggest the sacrificial evisceration of a body, the whole surrounded by big, crude mammillary forms. Ms. Bourgeois has suggested as the tableau’s inspiration a fantasy from childhood in which a pompous father, whose presence deadens the dinner hour night after night, is pulled onto the table by other family members, dismembered and gobbled up.”
one of her “Nature Studies”
“Cell (Eyes and Mirrors) ” 1989-93
“Ms. Bourgeois’s sculptures in wood, steel, stone and cast rubber, often organic in form and sexually explicit, emotionally aggressive yet witty, covered many stylistic bases. But from first to last they shared a set of repeated themes centered on the human body and its need for nurture and protection in a frightening world.
Protection often translated into images of shelter or home. A gouged lump of cast bronze, for example, suggested an animal’s lair. A tablelike wooden structure with thin, stiltlike legs resembled a house ever threatening to topple. Her series of “Cells” from the early 1990s — installations of old doors, windows, steel fencing and found objects — were meant to be evocations of her childhood, which she claimed as the psychic source of her art.
But it was her images of the body itself, sensual but grotesque, fragmented, often sexually ambiguous, that proved especially memorable. In some cases the body took the abstract form of an upright wooden pole, pierced by a few holes and stuck with nails; in others it appeared as a pair of women’s hands realistically carved in marble and lying, palms open, on a massive stone base…
Ms. Bourgeois often spoke of pain as the subject of her art, and fear: fear of the grip of the past, of the uncertainty of the future, of loss in the present.
‘The subject of pain is the business I am in,” she said. “To give meaning and shape to frustration and suffering.’ She added: ‘The existence of pain cannot be denied. I propose no remedies or excuses.’ Yet it was her gift for universalizing her interior life as a complex spectrum of sensations that made her art so affecting.” —article by Holland Cotter