Thursday, 3 June 2010

98 Years to Change the World

I wanted to do a post on Louise Bourgeois, as she died on Monday and I admire her tremendously. But I found myself merely perpetuating the myth and you can get all that in the newspapers and all over the internet. You tube has some videos of her talking about her work but they're all really short so you have to piece all the snippets together.

The thing I really admired about her was that she just kept doing what she did, she made no concessions to trends, she had something to say and was content to keep saying it until someone listened. She didn't shout, she didn't alter her voice, she didn't try and fit in with the big boys. Her work was all about the emotions, even when reason was considered the only mental state worth a damn, and thus she opened the door into the art world for those of us who believe, as David Hume once said: 'reason is, and should remain, a slave to the passions.'

This is one of my favourite pieces of hers, it's called (if I've got it right) The Arc of Hysteria

on one of the many video clips I've watched about her over the last couple of days I heard someone ask: 'why does she always hang men by the genital area?' I wonder if the answer is: 'so someone would ask that question.' The human form has been carved out of marble and cast in bronze since it's been possible to do so. Bourgeois is one of the few artists I've come across who doesn't just put her sculptures on a plinth. I like that. I also like that the bronze is polished. These differences of presentation add new meaning to old content.

Apparently she held a 'salon' every Sunday to which anyone was welcome, all you had to do was phone and let her know you'd be attending, that would have been worth moving to New York for.


Titus said...

Thanks Eryl; you are so right, it is an almost impossible task to write about "Bourgois - the woman, the artist", as the majority of the formulaic obituaries have shown.
I liked the complexity of her voice and all that was latent in her art. Beautiful choice of piece to show.

Pat said...

New to me! What a fantastic name. I'll have a google.

Elisabeth said...

This is such a fantastic sculpture, Eryl. I know little of the artist, though I've Heard of her.

I'm so glad you've introduced her work. I love her freedom of spirit the way you describe here and that she chose to do things her own way, and how well.

angryparsnip said...

Thanks for the look at this artist, I don't know her work.
It's hard to see everyone and everything but when you find someone you really enjoy how exciting.
Just like your friend "Rambling of the Bearded One" I would have never seen his Fabulous photography and his thinking behind his work if it wasn't for you. Isn't life grand.

cheers, parsnip

Rachel Fox said...

The Independent obit was a quite good starter for people who didn't know her or her work well maybe. It's here.

Eryl Shields said...

Titus ~ yes, it's the complexity that's truly interesting about her, and what is so difficult to capture.

Pat ~ the Independent obituary that Rachel has linked to in her comment is one of the best I've read so far: worth a look.

Elizabeth ~ it's fabulous isn't it?

You might find her and her work worth a survey, one of her main themes was her difficult, some say abusive, childhood. She has a piece called 'The Destruction of the Father.'

Parsnip ~ it is impossible to see every artist, or read every author, no matter how dedicated to art and/or literature one is. Knowing people who are interested is the best, if not only, way to get introductions I've found. Thank goodness for the internet which has vastly expanded my circle and given me access to so much interesting stuff. Life is grand indeed!

Rachel ~ thanks for that link, I hadn't read it and found it one of the most rounded obituaries I've come across.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I love her work and keep Annie Liebowitz's portrait of her close to hand.

It was her rooms that got me the most

Scarlet Blue said...

Here's another interesting link.

Kim Ayres said...

hanging by the genitals... could this be why there are so few male commenters on this blog post? (makes my eyes water)

Anonymous said...

Re David Hume: well, yes, but it's the slaves who do the necessary hard work. And unreasonable passionate people can be a bit of a nuisance, in my experience.

Carole said...

I read the obit and learned quite a bit about a woman I'd never heard about. Thanks. Sometimes it is great to have our eyes open.

Eryl Shields said...

Lulu ~ the rooms are tremendous. I'm so hoping someone puts on a massive retrospective, I'll travel.

Scarlet ~ thank you, Siri Huvstedt (I think my spelling is off here) is one of my favourite writers so that was a joy.

Kim ~ ha! It actually makes my eyes water, too, in sympathy.

Jenny ~ that's very Hegelian of you, but I know what you mean, sadly.

Carole ~ excellent! I think I'm beginning to discover that it's pretty much always good to have our eyes open, even if it feels very bad at the time – at times.

steven said...

hanging by the genitals - one guess is that the most pwerful event in her life appears to have been that her father had an affair with her governess. hmmmm. steven

Kathryn Magendie said...

"The thing I really admired about her was that she just kept doing what she did, she made no concessions to trends, she had something to say and was content to keep saying it until someone listened. She didn't shout, she didn't alter her voice, she didn't try and fit in with the big boys."

I love this - I am going to post this in my brain and look at it every day!

Eryl Shields said...

Steven - that does seem to be a big part of her narrative, and I guess it would piss one off.

Kat - she was a lesson in endurance and tenacity I find incredibly helpful when I remember!

A Cuban In London said...

I only met Bourgeois through her obituary, sadly. But in the intervening days I've acquainted myself with her art more and realised that she was her own person, with her own ideas. You're right, I don't think, or at least I didn't get the impression, that she wanted to 'fit in'. Many thanks for your beautiful post.

Greetings from London.