Another fun week studying Louise...
By 1966 Louise was working in relative obscurity when Lucy Lippard, a former student of Robert Goldwater, was putting together an exhibit of young, cutting-edge artists at the Fischbach Gallery in NYC. When Lippard saw Louise's sculptures she wondered how could someone with such an original vision have been overlooked by the art establishment. She included Louise in the show Eccentric Abstraction. The other artists in the show were decades younger but they shared Louise's preoccupation with body focused art and offbeat materials. Louise was not resentful of her many years without recognition.
In 1973 when Louise was 62 and her career was finally taking off, Robert died. She said of him,
Louise put together a mock fashion show called A Banquet/A Fashion Show of Body Parts. Friends and students paraded in costumes designed by Louise to be embarrassing only to those who took themselves too seriously. Louise was photographed for Vogue magazine wearing a tunic of latex breasts, similar to a fertility goddess.
My very first art history professor had this weird obsession with the Venus of Willendorf. It was on every single test and referenced when talking about every painting... I grew to hate it almost as much as his class. So the design above is Venus of Willendorf wearing a Louise Bourgeois costume because I need some new (and better) associations with the Venus of Willendorf.
November 1982. Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Louise was the first woman sculptor to have a retrospective in the museum's 53 year history. A few months before the show opened, she gave a slide show and lecture. She shocked the audience by speaking out for the first time about her childhood; the upsetting triangle of father, mother, and mistress and the impact it had on her art. For an artist to talk about the psychological roots of her creative process was unusual. By the time the retrospective opened, her autobiography became inseparable from her art. As she told her story, Louise warned listeners to keep their eyes on the art:
Louise's reputation began to grow. As the world grew curious about what she was up to, Louise had plenty to show. She had always believed in herself. For 40 years what she couldn't sell was stored in her Brooklyn studio––a little dusty, but there, waiting. "Many artists destroy their work not because it is bad but because it is not successfulbecause other people are not interested in it." At last the world was ready for her. It was as if she had been preparing her whole adult life to be discovered overnight.
To wrap up the week, I put together some of my favorite Louise pieces so far and then pulled some colors from her color palette. Next week, I hope to start on a large Louise inspired painting and so hopefully this will be a good spark for that.