Tuesday 10 May 2022

Louise Bourgeois at the Hayward Gallery

Louise Bourgeois - Spider
Steel, tapestry, wood, glass, fabric, rubber, silver, gold, bone

Louise Bourgeois' exhibition "The Woven Child" is on at the Hayward Gallery until 15 May 2022 so if you're quick you've still got time to visit! 

Louise Bourgeois - Untitled
Needlepoint and aluminium

Louise Bourgeois was born on Christmas Day 1911.  She was the daughter of tapestry repairers and helped out from an early age. Louise first studied Philosophy at the University of Paris before deciding to become an artist.  In the 1930s she studied at a number of artists' studios and academies in Paris including with Fernand Léger, developing 3D work as well as paintings and drawings. In 1938 she opened her own gallery, met art historian Robert Goldwater, married and moved to New York.  She brought up 3 sons and had her first solo show in 1945 in New York and began exhibiting in shows with the Abstract Expressionists - Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning. Throughout her career she worked with many materials including wood, bronze, latex, plaster and marble.  In her 80s Bourgeois began to work with textiles especially those belonging to herself and her mother that she had saved.  Imagery relating to sewing, mending and the tools of that trade remained important in her work until her death, aged 98, in 2010. It is this work from her later years that forms the basis of "The Woven Child". 

Made from clothes that had significance from her life and hanging on bones, Bourgeois made the piece below to evoke the memory of people, places and events. Welded to the base are the words "Seamstress, Mistress, Distress, Stress" - words that reference her family history and the effect it had on her.

Louise Bourgeois - Untitled
Cloth, bone and steel

Bourgeois made many room-like pieces called cells containing compositions of personal items and sculptural elements relating to her personal history. In Cell VII a bronze model of her home together with both her and her mother's garments hanging in the room-like space suggest haunting memories...

Louise Bourgeois - Cell VII (detail)
Metal, glass, fabric, bronze, steel,wood, bones, wax & thread

Many of the composite works such as Eugénie Grandet, made up of 16 mixed media pieces (see the selection below) were my favourites.  Bourgeois was fascinated by the heroine of Balzac's novel - Eugénie Grandet.  Bourgeois thought her father was trying to turn her into Eugénie.  These pieces were made from hankies and tea towels from Bourgeois' trousseau to which she added haberdashery, artificial flowers and items from her clothing and her sewing box that she had kept, evoking unrealised desires and the passing of time...

Louise Bourgeois - Eugénie Grandet (part)

and I particularly liked her fabric books...

Louise Bourgeois - The Woven Child
Fabric and lithograph book

Louise Bourgeois - Ode a l'Oubli
Fabric and lithograph book

Fascinated by needles, Bougeois said, "When I was growing up, all the women in my house were using needles. I've always had a fascination with the needle, the magic power of the needle.  The needle is used to repair the damage.  It's a claim to forgiveness. It's never aggressive, it's not a pin."

Louise Bourgeois - Needle
Steel, flax, mirror & wood

These are just a small selection of the work on show at the Hayward.  Go see while there's still time.

The Hayward Gallery is on London's South Bank.  It has a nice cafe and a small shop.

No comments:

Post a Comment