The MoMA takes a look to Louise Bourgeoise’s placard through the prism of the exhibition called An Unfolding Portrait from 24th September to 26th January 2018. This sample depicts the depths of artist’s painful life.
“I’m Not Stupid, Just Unhappy”
One of her impressions was based on Eugénie Grandet, the artist who wrote in the engraving the following words: “Art, the healer of her soul, never gave her a rest to make her happy.”
The curator of the exhibition, Debora Wye, described the hand-written letters by the artists that showed a new dimension of pain and that revealed a hidden relationship with the placard from 1951 to mid-70s. This period was considered the artist’s least productive of her career by showing the substitution of confessional art to writing dreams and regrets.
In Wye words, who had a close relationship with the artist and who is considered an expert regarding Bourgeoise’s work, it was really difficult to read the letters since the pain was so deep.
The exhibition Unfolding Portrait shows her sketches, drawings, fabric books, and engravings in order to see Bourgeoise’s creative process or the recognition of it. The atrium of the New York museum is taken by one of her gigantic spiders in one of her cells, followed by a not-so-spectacular journey of sculptures full of intimacy and hypnosis provoked by the rest of her 299 works.
Wye has dedicated her life to Bourgeoise’s work. She is the responsible of the installation of the retrospective dedicated to the French artist in 1982 in order to become the second woman who presented this kind of work in the MoMA. Wye also convinced the artist to donate all her engravings, drawings, and impressions to the museum in 1990 and to organize all the works that have been chosen for this exhibition.
From the 1200 pieces donated by Bourgeoise, there are 300 exhibited in which predominate engravings (265), sculptures (23), drawings (9), and paintings (2). These works are about frequent topics of the artist such as architecture, nature, human body, sexuality, and maternity.
This exhibition wants to give a fresher look to the French’s work. Her pieces tackle her biggest obsessions: her intention to control chaos from the spirals or from geometrical or architectural figures, whose increase weakened psychologically fear.
Furthermore, the inclusion of fabrics to her art as jargons of her souls is present in this exhibition. Female and erotic aspects in a pointy way and the nature as a means of communication are also present.
Art As a Proof of Sanity
For Bourgeoise, art was a survival tool and a proof to stay sane. Her works materialize all that compromised her happiness and marked her as a human, such as the departure of her dad and the early death of her mother, events that made her feel abandoned with all the emotion it caused.
Her work was in a constant increase from her beginnings in 1940, exorcizing all her demons. Her impression managed to get her some peace because she understood that this technique was a reproduction method, not a creative one by adding gauche, aquarelle, and pen layers.
Her engravings reveal the way in which her imagination worked with the diverse variation she did to a point of modifying them.
In the 40s, Bourgeoise made copious impressions in her home. She made them in Atelier 17. For the 80s, constantly until her death, she made almost daily impressions without using another printing machine.
Her preference for an expression beyond another one never collided. For Louise Bourgeoise it allowed her “to say the same things but differently.”