A life in pictures : Louise Bourgeois / Exhibition at The Guggenheim






Guggenheim Museum, New York

A life in pictures : Louise Bourgeois
Exhibition > 12 September 2008







A Life in Pictures: Louise Bourgeois, an exhibition of photographs, diaries, and ephemera from the artist’s personal archive, is on view at the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through September 12, 2008.

This biographical exhibition is unique to the Guggenheim’s presentation of the major retrospective Louise Bourgeois organized by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in association with Tate Modern, London, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, which is on view in the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda and an adjacent gallery through September 28, 2008.



Louise Bourgeois in 2003.
Photo: Nanda Lanfranco
© All rights reserved



For Louise Bourgeois, art and life are inextricably linked. Although her complex, allusive work attains a universal significance, she has spoken of the autobiographical subtext that underpins her unique symbolic language. A Life in Pictures: Louise Bourgeois offers an opportunity to visually trace the personal narratives that have informed the artist’s work throughout the past seven decades of her extensive career. Born in Paris in 1911, Bourgeois grew up in provincial France, assisting with the family’s tapestry restoration business before immigrating to New York in 1938. “Everything I do,” she has explained, “was inspired by my early life.” Viscerally present in her art is the psychic trauma of her mother’s early death, her father’s betrayal of the family through his 10-year affair with their live-in English tutor, and her overlapping roles of student, daughter, wife, mother and artist.

A Life in Pictures: Louise Bourgeois illuminates the artist’s rich life and career through a chronological display of over 75 photographs taken by her family and by fellow artists and friends such as Brassaï, Peter Moore, Inge Morath, and Baird Jones. Snapshots of Bourgeois — in France as a child, in the studio among her iconic works, at home at her famed Sunday salons, or in the company of great artists — are shown alongside her identification cards and passports. The artist’s original diaries, which she has kept assiduously since 1923, offer poems, sketches and daily musings, and often indicate the tensions between rage, fear of abandonment, and guilt she has suffered since childhood—tensions, however, that she has been able to channel and release through her art. Included in the presentation are 10 original invitations dating from 1945 to 1978, announcing some of Bourgeois’s New York exhibitions.

These selections from the artist’s archive contextualize the more than 150 works on view in the accompanying retrospective, such as Bourgeois’s early Femme Maison drawings and paintings of the 1940s, through the large-scale enclosed installations created in the 1990s known as Cells, to her more recent soft sculptures created from stitched fabric.



Louise Bourgeois photographed by Brassai at the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière in Paris in 1937.
Photo: Louise Bourgeois Archive
© All rights reserved


Louise Bourgeois and Andy Warhol in 1987 in front of her 1947 painting called 1932.
Photo: Baird Jones
© All rights reserved


Louise Bourgeois working on her mixed media sculpture entitled CONFRONTATION in 1978.
Photo: Inge Morath
© All rights reserved


Louise Bourgeois seated in her Chelsea home in 1999 with THREE HORIZONTALS.
Photo: Elfie Semotan
© All rights reserved





One Response to “A life in pictures : Louise Bourgeois / Exhibition at The Guggenheim”

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