Sunday, March 28, 2010

Artist of the Week: Louise Bourgeois b. 1911

" My emotions are disproportionate to my size. My emotions are my demons."
~ Louise Bourgeois

LOUISE BOURGEOIS: THE SPIDER, THE MISTRESS AND THE TANGERINE is a cinematic journey inside the world of a legend of modern art and an icon of feminism. Onscreen, the nonagenarian Louise Bourgeois is magnetic, mercurial and emotionally raw--an uncompromising artist whose life and work are imbued with her ongoing obsession with the mysteries of childhood. Her process is on full display in this intimate documentary, which features the artist in her studio and with her installations, shedding light on her intentions and inspirations. Louise Bourgeois has for six decades been at the forefront of successive new developments, but always on her own powerfully inventive and disquieting terms. In 1982, at the age of 71, she became the first woman to be honored with a major retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art. In the decades since, she has created her most powerful and persuasive work, including her series of massive spider structures that have been installed around the world. Filmed with unparalleled access between 1993 and 2007, LOUISE BOURGEOIS: THE SPIDER, THE MISTRESS AND THE TANGERINE is a comprehensive and dramatic documentary of creativity and revelation.

LOUISE BOURGEOIS: THE SPIDER, THE MISTRESS AND THE TANGERINE: Movie Trailer - Watch more top selected videos about: Movie_Trailers, Louise_Bourgeois:_The_Spider,_The_Mistress_And_The_Tangerine, Louise_Bourgeois, Marion_Cajori

Spirals abound in Louise Bourgeois’s art. She says they make her think of control and freedom, and of strangling someone...

Spiral Woman

Louise with Spider IV, in 1996.

Bourgeois is best known for these sculptures and casts of giant spiders. There is a meaning in there. 

"My best friend was my mother.  She was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable and dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat and useful as a spider." 

 Modern and contemporary art sometimes takes knowing something about the artist. Bourgeois fascinates me:  both in her work and in her independent energy and spirit. I'm currently reading a book I picked up at the Williams museum store called The Runaway Girl. 

Installed outside the Ottawa National Gallery
  "subtle", huh? hehehe  :-)
 Do You Love Me?

The Blind Leading the Blind
wood construction and paint
" If I was to have a museum, I don't think I'd have any words on the wall at all. I want people to have a visual experience. I would show what I am working on now. "

 Spider Home

 This small sculpture is more fitting of the quote above and my favorite of the spiders Bourgeois created.

"...all my work in the past fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood.  My childhood never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama."

Blind Man's Buff

 Femme Maison, 1946-47
Louise Bourgeois: Between Body and Anti-Body 

The spiral is glass, this time, hanging from the ceiling of the Guggenheim in NYC.

I recently had the pleasure of photographing the nine piece installation depicted below, which decorates a parking island in front of the Williams College Museum of Art. All of the pieces are depicted in my photographs of the exhibition by clicking here. See this post for other photos of these sculpture series.

The following three photos are my own, taken a couple of years ago at the MoMA, NYC.



  1. She's amazing. Wonderful stuff.

  2. I'm such a bad student of art that I'm ashamed of myself that I knew nothing about Bourgeois until I saw this post. Yes, I knew about Maman in Ottawa and admired its magnificence but never thought to learn more about the artist. When she said that her emotions were so much bigger than she was in a physical sense I was truly amazed. I've often felt the same way. Thanks for this Pagan. I am beholden to you for yet another vision of the extraordinary capacity for truth inherent in the lives of truly dedicated artists.

  3. An excellenct choice for artist of the week. Do you like Brincusi?

  4. SB: Excellent! :-)

    Susan: You're not a bad student. My own classroom has really the museums I visit and the internet. Had I not encountered her work at MoMA, I might still not have been exposed to her work.

    I'm currently well into her work and life. My hobby is art history, your talent is to paint. And I love your painting; all of your creations, really.

    Jams: I have never heard the name! But I'm eager to do a search! Thanks for all your support on the art posts and keep suggestions coming please!

  5. Very interesting sculptures. I wonder what the spiders symbolize for her.

    Re your comment: yes, I have seen it and I loved it. I also saw "Bird Cage" and "La Cage Aux Folles" and loved them too!

  6. Thank you for including the video. I agree with you that to understand modern and contemporary art it helps to know a bit about the artist.

    Interesting that if LB were to have her own museum she would have no words on the wall. Hmmm. Interesting concept. Without at least some guidance I think I might miss the point of each piece. Perhaps she would compromise and at least give us a title for each?

    I enjoyed this post!

  7. Kenju: glad you enjoyed it. The spiders, I believe, represent her mother: both industrious and looming large. At least that's what I'm understanding from reading the book Runaway Girl.

    EG: I'm so glad you liked it! This stuff doesn't appeal to everyone, so it's nice to get positive feedback. Though it's no accident that LB is one of the most famous living sculptors of our time and yet she is put down, ridiculed and misunderstood by most people. Which, personally I find kind of sad.

  8. EG: forgot to mention that I agree with you on the wordless museum - I thought about it and wondered if I could appreciate her work without at least some clue as to what it meant. It seems sort of contradictory and yet LB doesn't create for others, really but for herself. From reading the book Runaway Girl, she does so without disdain for her audience - it is just the way she creates.
    And isn't she a fascinating looking woman?

  9. Thanks for posting. It's been a few years since I went to an exhibit of hers. Her work is really provocative, but not in the sense of being controversial.

  10. she's a force!! she's wonderful

    I adore spiders, I feel a kinship with them
    there's always at least one hanging out in the basement and I talk to her

    I learn so much from you!!


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