Thursday, 3 June 2010

R.I.P. Louise Bourgeois

Artist Louise Bourgeois died on Monday after suffering a heart attack. She was ninety-eight years old.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a Louise Bourgeois sculpture in real life, although I think there may have been one at Tate Liverpool a while back. However, I have seen many images of her work, and it has always intrigued me.
The image at the top of this post is a 1996 piece, and probably my favourite of hers that I'm aware of. The contrast of insubstantial dresses and underwear hanging on hangers made from human-looking bones and meathooks hints at threat lurking below a superficial surface, or the fragility of image and also of life.

Louise was fond of evoking the sense of human vulnerability, our needs and desires to be protected. She was also interested in the body, and liked to sculpt distorted or combined bodies in multiple media, including textiles. It was this part of her work in which she explored her feminist ideas. Some of these figures are clearly inspired by Neolithic figurines.

Multiple versions of the sculpture above exist, in bronze and other media. I like this one because the figure is simultaneously so slight and vulnerable, and strong. It also reminds me of ourobouros images.

Louise Bourgeois only really became famous late in her life and career. She was expecially known for her large-scale spider sculptures.

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