1 June 2010

Louise Bourgeois 1911-2010

Louise Bourgeois (the last great artist of the twentieth century?) is dead.

Holland Cotter in the New York Times:

Ms. Bourgeois’s sculptures in wood, steel, stone and cast rubber, often organic in form and sexually explicit, emotionally aggressive yet witty, covered many stylistic bases. But from first to last they shared a set of repeated themes centered on the human body and its need for nurture and protection in a frightening world.

Protection often translated into images of shelter or home. A gouged lump of cast bronze, for example, suggested an animal’s lair. A tablelike wooden structure with thin, stiltlike legs resembled a house ever threatening to topple. Her series of “Cells” from the early 1990s — installations of old doors, windows, steel fencing and found objects — were meant to be evocations of her childhood, which she claimed as the psychic source of her art.

But it was her images of the body itself, sensual but grotesque, fragmented, often sexually ambiguous, that proved especially memorable. In some cases the body took the abstract form of an upright wooden pole, pierced by a few holes and stuck with nails; in others it appeared as a pair of women’s hands realistically carved in marble and lying, palms open, on a massive stone base.

Sure she was an extraordinary 98 and apparently making art until her death, but she was a great soul, and should be mourned.

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