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Art HERstory: Louise Bourgeois


Art HERstory: Louise Bourgeois

Art HERstory: Louise Bourgeois

‘Bourgeois’ is defined as belonging to the middle class. Most people are born into this social status and spend the rest of their lives attempting to claw their way out. Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) spent all 98 years of her life attempting to escape the environment she entered at birth. Fortunately, her not-so-happy home is what eventually pulled her into the company of renowned artists and earned her the title of ‘founder of confessional art.’

'Arch of Hysteria' (1993). This sculture stemms from Louise's interest in the emotional, physical, and psychological effects of pain. This body is doing more than bending physically, the male anatomy depicted is placed in a postion commonly associated with females and sexual intercourse. Louise wanted to challenge gender roles with this piece as well as the stereotype of hysteria being a 'woman's disease.'

'Arch of Hysteria' (1993). This sculture stemms from Louise's interest in the emotional, physical, and psychological effects of pain. This body is doing more than bending physically, the male anatomy depicted is placed in a postion commonly associated with females and sexual intercourse. Louise wanted to challenge gender roles with this piece as well as the stereotype of hysteria being a 'woman's disease.'

Louise was a gift to her parents, literally. She was born Christmas Day 1911 in Paris, France. Her parents were a working class couple who owned an antique tapestry gallery. Her father, Louis Bourgeois, was a violent man with a serious case of lust. He indulged in countless affairs with many women during Louise’s childhood. Outside of outbursts and stepping out on his wife, Louis was also ashamed of his daughter. Louise never met her father’s expectations because of her lack of talent. He even teased her in public for her ‘shortcomings.’ What a douche!

'Pregnant Woman' (2007). Women are the givers of life. There is no denying that. I love this artistic interpretation of mother with child. Its so simplistic, but yet so impactful.

'Pregnant Woman' (2007). Women are the givers of life. There is no denying that. I love this artistic interpretation of mother with child. Its so simplistic, but yet so impactful.

In 1930, Louise left the nest to attend the Sorbonne where she studied geometry. She chose this specific concentration because she valued the stability of mathematics. Her life before college was anything but stable.

'Seven In Bed' (2001). No challenge where the inspiration for this piece came from. Many people sharing a bed? Infidelity of her father's behalf? Get it?

'Seven In Bed' (2001). No challenge where the inspiration for this piece came from. Many people sharing a bed? Infidelity of her father's behalf? Get it?

Two years later Louise’s mother passed. Her mother’s death inspired her to pursue a career in art, an interest her father loathed. She continued to study art against her father’s wishes and eventually graduated from the Sorbonne in 1935. She extended her collegiate career by attending the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, the École du Louvre, and the École des Beaux-Arts. While at the latter of the institutions, Louise began to refer to her childhood traumas with her father for inspiration. As a result, much of her art focuses on gender expectations, sex, infidelity, and feminism.

'Maman' (1999). This 30 foot high bronze sculpture resembles a pregnant spider. What you can't see from this angle is the spider's sac containing marble eggs.

'Maman' (1999). This 30 foot high bronze sculpture resembles a pregnant spider. What you can't see from this angle is the spider's sac containing marble eggs.

In 1938, Louise and her new husband reloacted to New York City. Once there she attended Art Students League of New York where she continued to sculpt and paint. By 1973 Louise’s primary source of income wasnt art. She became a teacher at the Pratt Institute, Cooper Union, and New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture.

'Cell VII' (1998). This image is reminiscent of Louise's childhood. The clothing hanging from the ceiling is a symbol for the domestic duties women were expected to perform on a daily basis. Also take note of the dollhouse on the left side of the frame. A little girl is somewhere near.

'Cell VII' (1998). This image is reminiscent of Louise's childhood. The clothing hanging from the ceiling is a symbol for the domestic duties women were expected to perform on a daily basis. Also take note of the dollhouse on the left side of the frame. A little girl is somewhere near.

The Museum of Modern Art is where Louise held her first retrospective exhibition in 1981. Yes, you read that right. She held her first retrospective at the age of 70. Honestly, up until 1981 nobody respected Louise as an artist. Its often said her work was admired, but never respected.

'Temper Tantrum' (2000). This subject is clearly a female. Oversized breasts and butt make that clear. I assume the title comes from the fact that the woman is lying on her back as if throwing a fit. Also, women expressing their emotions is often misinterpreted as 'nagging' or 'throwing a temper tantrum.' Man do double standards suck!

'Temper Tantrum' (2000). This subject is clearly a female. Oversized breasts and butt make that clear. I assume the title comes from the fact that the woman is lying on her back as if throwing a fit. Also, women expressing their emotions is often misinterpreted as 'nagging' or 'throwing a temper tantrum.' Man do double standards suck!

Until a week before her death Louise continued to create. Her last works were used as a microphone to voice her opinion on LGBT equality and same-sex marriage. She created a work entitled I Do to show her support. The piece depicts two flowers growing from one stem. It was used to benefit the nonprofit organization Freedom to Marry.

Louise Bourgeois’ life ceased on May 31, 2010. She fell victim to heart failure at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Image Layout: Phaymiss

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