The last week of Louise Bourgeois :( She's been really fun to study and she has just SO much work from drawings to paintings to sculpture that it's pretty easy to be inspired. Here's my notes from this week:
Articles from her past filled her house and studio. Slowly she started recycling these "found objects" into her art––old furniture, clothing, and castoffs. She called her new series of installations Cells.
Insomnia was one of Louise Bourgeois's faithful companions. To combat this suspended state between sleep and wakefulness, whensenses are doubly alert, and to calm herself, she drew. The Insomnia Drawings 1994-5 are 220 mixed media works on paper. This one is mine, not Louise's, but inspired by hers which were often repetitive.
The Tate Modern, the largest museum for modern art in the world, opened in London in May of 2000. Louise was commissioned to do the first installation for the huge ground floor Turbine Hall. She created three gigantic steel towers titled I Do, I Undo, and I Redo. The towers of spiral staircases with chairs placed on the landings were intended to encourage conversation. Specatators looked up to confront their reflections in huge, overhanging mirrors. The installation suggests the ways in which we negotiate and renegotiate relationships with others throughout our lives. It also invokes the rhythm of making, reflecting, and remaking which was always a theme for Louise.
Almost dwarfed by the towers was the sculpture that everyone fell in love with--a 35 foot spider titled Maman, French for mother. For Louise, the spider is the symbol of her industrious mother, who spent her days repairing, restoring, reweaving. At the end of the exhibit, the London Maman was packed away into storage, but other Maman's appeared.
Beginning in the 1970's Louise hosted Sunday salons in her Chelsea apartment, where students and young artists would take their work to be critiqued by Bourgeois, who could be ruthless and referred to the gatherings, with characteristically dry humor, as "Sunday, bloody Sunday".
During an interview with Louise, the phone rings. Her assistant Jerry answers. An artist wants to come to Sunday salon. "Let me talk," Louise says. "Who are. you? What kind of work do you do? A painter? What size?" She listens for a minute and finally says, "All right. You could come at three o'clock. Don't come if you have a cold."
Louise usually worked in a series, often returning over many years to a familiar theme, such as Femme Maison, with new materials and ideas. When asked how she knew a piece was finished, Louise said:
Louise was convinced that the shoot was going to be a disaster, so she prepared for it: ‘I could not imagine what would go wrong but I knew that everything would go wrong if I was not prepared. So even though I travel light, I did take a piece of mine.’ She chose to take Fillette (translates to 'Little Girl') as she knew that she would get ‘comfort from holding and rocking the piece.’ ‘I thought that it was a good collaboration because he is famous, not for his flower pictures, he is famous for his objectionable, sexual representation ... he is famous as a controversial artist and this photograph fitted in his album.’
The purpose of the photo shoot was to get a photo for her exhibition catalog but in the end MoMA cropped the photo to a headshot. Louise said 'the glint in the eye refers to the thing I'm carrying. But they cut it. They cut it because the museum was so prudish.'
Louise died on Monday, May 31st 2010 in Manhattan at the age of 98.