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Article available in:. Vol 26, Issue 1, Sylvie Borau and more Recherche et Applications en Marketing French Edi Her work, which has traversed Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, oscillating between abstract geometry and organic reality, escapes all attempts at artistic classification.
Based on memory, emotion and the reactivation of childhood souvenirs, Louise Bourgeois follows a subjective approach, using all types of material and all manner of shapes. Her personal and totally autobiographical vocabulary is consistent with the most contemporary of practices, and exerts an influence on many artists. Presented in three spaces, it begins in the Forum with a giant bronze and steel spider, never before shown in Europe.
In Gallery 2, a chronological display reveals the major works with a special focus on the past decade of the career of this year-old artist, who unremittingly innovates her artistic vocabulary. Though a sculptor, Louise Bourgeois nevertheless maintains an attachment to the image , painted, engraved or drawn, by which she began. These visual ideas may or may not give rise to sculptures. Through drawing she decants the complex memories and images of her past that emerge into consciousness, called up by intense emotions. Louise Bourgeois spent her childhood in Choisy-le-Roi where her parents ran a tapestry restoration business.
From the age of eleven, Louise helped with the job of drawing the motifs. The thread used to restore the tapestries can be metaphorically compared to the line of the drawing. Though less immediate, painting was nevertheless one of the means of expression favoured by the artist up until the late s. In , she met the art historian Robert Goldwater. They married and went to live in the United States.
In her first solo exhibition in in New York she presented twelve paintings. In , one of the major themes of her work appeared in her drawing and painting: the femme-maison [house-woman]. Femme-maison , Oil and ink on linen, In this rigorously vertical canvas, the female body, lacking arms, carries a grey house with columns on its shoulders. The grey rigidity of the house contrasts with the bright pink female body whose outlined genitals resemble a flower.
Warm and cool colours, straight and curved lines, geometrical and organic elements coexist in these images that are the product of a strange and personal combinatory logic.
A psychological structure built of contrasts. The house is the ideal receptacle for all memories and, in particular, those of childhood. The childhood home where her family life was very turbulent, due to a flighty father who was often unfaithful to her mother with other women and, much more painfully for the artist, with her young English governess, Sadie.
Quarantania I , Wood painted in white with blue and black, Afterwards, it became the art of falling. How to fall without being hurt. Then the art of being here, in this place. A spatial and psychological field of attraction and repulsion commands them.
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From the outset, Louise Bourgeois saw sculpture as an interrelationship with the environment and of the works between themselves. Lacking bases, the personages were designed to be pushed into the ground like totems. The constraints of her gallery obliged her to provide them with bases. In the centre is the Woman with Packages surrounded by several shuttle-women. Precariously balanced on the point that fixes it to its base, each female figure here seems nevertheless to support the other and to arrive at a form of equilibrium and harmony.
Each member of the group maintains its independence, respecting the territory of those surrounding it, while all together they protect the central figure. Very tall and thin, these wooden silhouettes sculpted by Bourgeois are an affirmation of verticality. Headless and armless, they are made from the wood of the sequoia, which the artist carved with a razor blade. They are also painted in white, a virginal colour for the artist, and in light blue.
Louise Bourgeois, Fillette Sweeter Version , Latex on plaster hanging work , 60 x 27 x 20 cm Private collection. In the early s, Louise Bourgeois abandoned the verticality and rigidity of wood to work with flexible materials. The fluidity of plaster attracted her, as did latex, which inspired works of a biomorphic nature, dealing with the subject of the refuge, the nest. During this period she also produced a great number of works using fragments of the body , often sexual parts. Playing on the ironic contrast between the title and the work, Fillette [little girl] represents a penis.
The artist was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe with the sculpture under her arm, casting a mischievous look at the camera. Fillette has thus become an emblem of her work, a work that seeks to maintain fuzzy borders between identities and things. The shape of the penis is often seen in her work; its significance has several levels.
There is firstly the erotic significance, since, according to the artist, underlying everything is the sexual drive and its sublimation in art.
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But in her saucy look, the mischievous-artist-girl identifies with the phallus that she holds in her arms and obliges us to interpret, always with irony, in feminine terms. Indeed, if the work has the obvious shape of a penis, it is nevertheless a sort of awkward personage , with a protective covering, feminine, infantile and masculine all at once. The feminine-masculine ambivalence can also be found in the choice of materials, the hard plaster and the supple latex covering it.
In the top of Fillette is a hook by which the sculpture can be suspended from the ceiling. Seen from below, the two balls are obviously a reference to testicles, but could also be breasts, often portrayed by Bourgeois as spherical forms. The eye and female sexual parts are thus linked together by the artist , in opposition to Freud who associated the glance with the phallus and the fear of losing sight with castration anxiety. Pontalis, Norton, The artist has been keeping her diary since the age of twelve.
She writes about her life, her encounters, her thoughts about her art and her private life. Writing alternately in French and English, her thinking is clear and her style incisive. The recent years have been marked by poetic texts, dominated by childhood memories, with alliterations, assonances and other prosodic effects. Metamorphosis is one of the essential principles of the work of Louise Bourgeois. It intervenes at several levels: in the sculpture itself and in its interaction with other elements that modify how it is formally perceived and its meaning. Janus fleuri, Bronze, gold patina, hanging piece, If Fillette was simultaneously penis and little girl, the flaccid penis of Sleep underlines the femininity of men, through the formal analogy that the work maintains with the female breast.
In the same year as Fillette , Louise Bourgeois produced other hanging works consisting of human body parts with sexual connotation. Here we have a series of four sculptures in phallic form, with the evocative title of Janus, including Janus fleuri [Flowered Janus]. As the reference to the Ancient Roman divinity indicates, Janus was the god with two faces, one turned towards the past and the other towards the future, the divinity of gates janua ; those of his temple were closed in times of peace and open in times of war.
Everything opened and shut according to his desires.