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A Cheat Sheet on Louise Bourgeois
Let`s start with oranges, spiders and private salons
Uncategorized 24 Jun 2019


Like many female artists, Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911 Paris, d. 2010 New York) didn’t receive superstar status until after her death. Since then, the French artist famed for her spiders, has had many huge exhibitions, spanning the globe from London to New York. And, as she’s become something of an art world icon recently, we’ve got 9 facts that you might not have known already about the artist.
 
Her earliest sculptures were made from fruit

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Fabric played an important role in Louise Bourgeois’s life. She grew up surrounded by the textiles of her parents’ tapestry restoration workshop, and from the age of twelve helped the business by drawing in the sections of the missing parts that were to be repaired. A life-long hoarder of clothes and household items such as tablecloths, napkins and bed linen, from the mid-nineties Bourgeois cut up and re-stitched these, transforming her lived materials into art. Through sewing she attempted to effect psychological repair: ‘I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned. The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole’. #louisebourgeois #fiberfilledsummer

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As a child her father had a tradition that everyone should bring something to the dinner table to entertain the others. When she was a little girl she started to shape the peel of oranges into little sculptures. She once demonstrated how her father pared a tangerine; in the end, she holds the peeled off skin in her hands and it is obvious in which place the white inner part of the fruit is positioned, like a little penis on a flat body. For her, this procedure was very embarrassing and exposing, because her father often confronted her in front of others with topics related to her female sex.
  
She had a thing for creepy crawlies


One of the first things you’ll notice in Bourgeois’s work, is just how many of them are full of spiders. When she was growing up in France her father filled the family estate with dozens of animals. She says that the spider is a stand-in for her mother, describing both as being patient, kind, reasonable and indispensable.
 
She was a mathematician

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Açık Diyalog İstanbul, çocukların sanatla büyümeleri ve birbirinden farklı sanatı öğrenmeleri amacıyla çocuk atölye çalışmalarını hız kesmeden sürdürüyor. 30 Haziran Pazar günü saat 15:00 ve 16:30 saatleri arasında Heykeltıraş ve eğitmen Sayın Pınar Yılmaz’ın yürüteceği “Louise Bourgeois İle Bir Gün” atölye çalışmasında, çocuklar 20. yüzyıl Fransız-Amerikan heykel sanatının öncülerinden olan büyük usta Louise Bourgeois’nın eserlerini tanıma fırsatı bulacak. . . . #art #artist #artwork #arte #artoftheday #artsy #artgallery #artistic #arts #artists #artlife #louisebourgeois #artstagram #artlovers #artisan #artista #artcollective #artshow #artlover #artforsale #artbasel #artphotography #artstudio #sanat #artpop #artsandcrafts #artnerd #arttherapy #gazetesanat

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Before turning to art, Bourgeois initially studied maths, deciding to pursue art after her mother’s death in 1932.
 
She was married to a historian


In 1938 Bourgeois married art historian Robert Goldwater, a specialist on the relationships between modern and primitive art. The pair were married for 35 years, enjoying a loving relationship until Goldwater’s death in 1973.
 
She was a feminist


Feeling suppressed in a society dominated by men, she found out early about the difficulties of marriage. Her father cheated on her mother with different women and made no secret of his affair with her private English teacher. Louise describes her emotions as a “trauma of the motherly screams”, she was unable to help her mother and could only watch her suffering. When she married her husband he was the one who was taking care of the children and she described him as the “tender part” of them. We do not know a lot about her marriage, but Louise continuously supported feminist discussions and contributed a very important part to the sexual liberation of women.
 
She hosted private salons


From the 1970s Louise and her husband hosted Sunday salons. The artists and students who wanted to participate only had to fulfil two conditions: You can’t have a cold, and you have to bring your work. This tradition was continued until her death in 2010. The experience could be nerve wracking as guests risked being reduced to “a hair in the soup” by Louise herself. Until the age of 98 the salon was held on a weekly basis, in the end, she used to sit on a wooden box with a pillow so that she could survey the scene despite her small height.
 
She kept a diary


Since the age of 12, Bourgeois kept a diary not only by writing things down but also recording conversations. Keeping different diaries was her way of keeping her “house tidy”, it was her way of reminding herself that she was alive, serving as evidence in times she felt small. One of the main topics of her personal protocols was her obsession of being useful. The fear of being useless stemmed from her childhood, questions like: “Do you love me, even if I am a girl?”
 
She mingled with Léger, Breton, Duchamp and Miro


Before moving to New York permanently in 1938, Bourgeois lived above André Breton’s Gradiva gallery in France. She was also a student of Fernand Léger too. And, once she did move to New York, she quickly found other French artists to mix with, including Marcel Duchamp and Joan Miro.
 
She was in therapy for decades


Bourgeois had many childhood traumas stemming from her mother’s death, the horrors of the first world war and her father’s infidelity. She believed she should take her dead mother’s place and entered therapy in 1951. She became addicted and went four times a week, not stopping until her doctor’s death in 1982.
 
Words by Lizzy Vartanian
Images via @kerstin.kubalek, @ivangallery, @little___onion, @sohaila.baluch, @dreampalacevintage, @maz.urek.adh, @ramsnotsheep, @gazetesanat, @mrsveth_man, @rachelchudley

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