1 June 2010

Louise Bourgeois 1911 - 2010


Louise Bourgeois in 1990, behind her marble sculpture Eye to Eye (1970)
Photo by Raimon Ramis

Artist Louise Bourgeois, whose sculptures exploring women's deepest feelings on birth, sexuality and death were highly influential on younger artists, died Monday, her studio's managing director said. She was 98.

Bourgeois had continued creating artwork - her latest pieces were finished just last week - before suffering a heart attack Saturday night, said the studio director, Wendy Williams. The artist died at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, where she lived.

Working in a wide variety of materials, she tackled themes relating to male and female bodies and emotions of anger, betrayal, even murder. Her work reflected influences of surrealism, primitivism and the early modernist sculptors such as Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi.


"I really want to worry people, to bother people," she told The Washington Post in 1984. "They say they are bothered by the double genitalia in my new work. Well, I have been bothered by it my whole life. I once said to my children, `It's only physiological, you know, the sex drive.' That was a lie. It's much more than that."

Bourgeois' work was almost unknown to the wider art world until she was 70, when New York's Museum of Modern Art presented a solo show of her career in 1982.

Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine - trailer via artkaleidoscope


"This is not a show that is easy to digest," New York Times critic Grace Glueck wrote. "The reward is an intense encounter with an artist who explores her psyche at considerable risk."

In his book "American Visions," Time art critic Robert Hughes called her "the mother of American feminist identity art. ... Bourgeois's influence on young artists has been enormous."

Video from Art 21


He noted the key difference in her use of sexual imagery: She explores "femaleness from within, as distinct from the familiar male conventions of looking at it from the outside, from the eyeline of another gender. ... Surrealist fascination with the female body becomes, so to speak, turned inside out."

Among the honors coming to her were a National Medal of Arts, awarded by President Clinton in 1997. In October, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

In 2001, thousands of tourists saw her work "Spiders" when it was exhibited on the plaza at Rockefeller Center for 2 1/2 months as part of a Public Art Fund program to promote outdoor exhibits in New York.


Louise Bourgeois in 2009

It featured a 30-foot-high spider, "Maman," carrying a basket of eggs, flanked by two smaller spiders.


In 2007-08, an elaborate retrospective of her career, from the 1940s onward, was displayed at the Tate Modern in London, the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In many interviews, she cited a childhood trauma as the source of much of the emotion in her work: her father's affair with a woman hired as an English tutor for young Louise.

Louise Bourgeois by Annie Leibovitz

"You see, I always hated that woman," she told The Washington Post. "... My work is often about murder."

In "Dangerous Passage," from 1997, Bourgeois drew upon memories of her childhood, strewing a cage with symbolic objects: an antique child's swing on one side; broken bones on the other.


Her room-size 1991 sculpture "Twosome" combined a flashing red light, two steel cylinders and a motor that propels the smaller cylinder in an out of the larger one. The materials suggested a machine, but the movement evokes sexuality, or birth.


In 2007, she depicted the effects of aging on her own body in a series of 11 large panels called "Extreme Tension."

In an e-mail exchange in early 2008, The Associated Press asked Bourgeois what advice she would give young artists just starting out.

"Tell your own story, and you will be interesting," she responded. "Don't get the green disease of envy. Don't be fooled by success and money. Don't let anything come between you and your work."


Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911; her parents ran a business restoring antique tapestries. In her early years, she studied at the Academie des Beaux-Arts and other schools and studios.

She moved to New York in 1938 after marrying the American art historian Robert Goldwater and became an American citizen in 1955. A professor of art history at New York University, Goldwater was also director of the Museum of Primitive Art, established in 1957, and wrote a key book on the topic, "Primitivism in Modern Art".

While Bourgeois work shows the influence of primitive artists, she was quick to note that her work was not primitive.

Louise Bourgeois at the Académie de la Grande-Chaumiére, Paris, 

"My husband said 15 years ago that primitive art is no longer being made," she told The Washington Post in 1984. "The primitive condition has vanished. These are recent works. Look at it this way - a totem pole is just a decorated tree. My work is a confessional."

Her husband died in 1973. She is survived by two sons, Alain and Jean Louis, as well as two grandchildren and a great-grandchild. A third son, Michel, predeceased her, Williams said.

A private funeral is planned for family members.

in AP


[Louise Bourgeois is represented by Cheim & Read]


25 comments:

  1. However you consider her work, her work encompassed 98 years. An extreme form of art from the most extreme of artists.

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  2. Brilliant work RIP, she certainly won't be forgotten.

    JL

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  3. What a lady, what a life, and what a profound take on life.

    Some wise words there. Well worth noting.

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  4. A very great woman and artist.
    Thanks for this tribute, Joana.
    It is also a reminder that the world still goes around...

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  5. astounding works..

    to quote the late, great Joseph Beuys

    ' This transcendent character of information, in an invisible world, gives us at the same time the proof.. that we are not only biological beings, material beings, but first spiritual beings, not existing on this planet.. that we are only partly existing on this planet.. and being involved in wood, in felt, in fat, in iron, in rubber or whatever resources of this planet '.


    Good night Louise, you have left your mark

    isar

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  6. I love the work of this lady, may she RIP. I saw one of works outside the guggenhiem musum in Bilbao. Wonderful artist sadly missed.
    And now may I say the mccanns are into art, see McCann Files latest and Kates post on the EBay artwork for missing children. Their nose is in everything.
    Sorry I had to add this, but not to detract from the valuable work of Louise Bourgeois, or another famous that died these last days, Dennis Hopper, known for his role in Easy Rider, sadly missed RIP

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  7. I was awed by Maman, the spider sculpture, at the Guggenheim Museum, and felt compelled to know more. Her originality of thought and concept is unique, I think.

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  8. Certainly food for thought, a great lady.

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  9. Is Joana on holidays ?
    (together with Nige ...haha.... Bahama's again?)

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  10. apropos of nothing..or maybe everything..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN8CKwdosjE

    made me smile

    isar

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  11. KC @ 9
    The latest tactic of the McCanns is to keep a low profile, something they should have done a long time ago. Unfortunately they didn't...and now it's far, far too late and they have said and inferred too much. So they may keep quiet for some time, probably preparing for future court cases, but this DOES NOT mean we will lose interest or stop caring that Madeleine died/was killed and those responsible are as yet unpunished. We will enjoy not reading the non-news, fake stories and this gives us the time to all consider how we can move this tragic story further and bring punishment to those who deserve it and ultimately, one day, justice for Madeleine McCann. A huge thank you to Joana and Nige and all who care.

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  12. "KC said...
    Is Joana on holidays ?"

    No, the Truth is on holidays.

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  13. Regarding the Maccann's could be the calm before the storm, no news is good news. Lets be honest the only news we all want is that the case is to be reopened. We all want the same look on Gerry Maccanns face that we beheld the day he walked out of the Police station in Portugal.

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  14. OK, Nige's back..... lets pick up the blogging again....

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  15. I love the photograph of Louise Bourgeois above the wording Louise Bourgeois by Annie Leibovitz.

    RIP, Louise Bourgeois.

    zz

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  16. The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.

    – Louise Bourgeois[22]

    Pity MBM's mother was not protective like a spider.

    zz

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  17. A truly great artist...

    Contrast with this, past "art" produced by PACT to sell on eBay (where Kate McCann's Magnum Opus currently resides.)

    http://shop.ebay.co.uk/pact_auction/m.html

    And the slogan of PACT, on their own website (and I assure you, I’m NOT making this up!!!) – “Great Art. Big Names. And Lots of Balloons.”

    RIP Louise Bourgeois, please do not let this disturb your well-deserved rest. We'll handle it down here on earth...

    --Trismegistus

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  18. --Trismegistus #17 LOL!

    zz

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  19. regardless of what I feel or ceased to feel about Goncalo

    ..he should have never got into bed with that racist/flatearther/vengeful swine

    Tony Bennett

    the plot was lost there and then..(when Sofia, Goncalo's wife) namechecked him...

    kinda like...me extolling the virtue of Zionism by quoting Himmler

    Pretzel Logic..

    that's when it all fell apart for Mr. Amaral

    lie with dogs..catch fleas

    IMHO

    isar

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  20. Off-topic or not, whatever happened to the most recent post concerning the Sun's story linking the gay paedos to the Maddie case?

    It was not a figment of my imagination. The post was very relevant. Why was it removed?

    Algarveisfedup

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  21. @19,what has your post got to do with Louise Bourgeois,wether you like or dislike tony bennett you should not bring it on here.and as for it all falling apart for Mr Amaral pleaseee give that man some credit,he wasnt a policeman for nothing.

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  22. Money grubber media manipulator Rupert Murdoch closed the free edition of the Times Online website - trying the free preview & saving all the articles on the #McCann case before time ends up http://twitpic.com/1x0uii

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  23. @19.sounds like you are talking about the tapas7 with your lie with dogs you get flea,s,it fits them like a glove

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  24. quote by anonymous :

    @19,what has your post got to do with Louise Bourgeois,wether you like or dislike tony bennett you should not bring it on here.and as for it all falling apart for Mr Amaral pleaseee give that man some credit,he wasnt a policeman for nothing.

    unquote

    Louise..was a free spirit..as far as I can make out..untethered by the colour of her skin or the lettering on her passport or - and most importantly .. by the comments of others

    that class of person I have nothing but admiration for

    and to get to your point re. the case...I admire all free thinkers...and not the sheep who need their svengalis to tell them what to think

    your trust in coppers (per se) warms the cockles of my heart

    kind regards,

    isar

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  25. Yeah, PACT is the word.

    It must mean so much to the Tapas friends that pact of theirs. What kind of people are they when a child is missing and they make a pact!

    These same people can make a pact but can't be bothered to come back and do a reconstruction to help find Madeleine, though they can make it back to PDL to falsely accuse Murat. Then there's a mother who wont answer 48 questions regarding the disappearance of her daughter, or go out the first night her daughter went missing to join the search, or search since, but is willing to travel miles to make sure she is in court when there is a million to be had.

    Yeah, they sure do have crazy priorities these Tapas friends, along with that pact of their.

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