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Louise Bourgeois

Artist 103 Louise Bourgeois Exorcism in Art Mixed mediums

Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (1911 – 2010) was a French-American artist. Although she is best known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art, Bourgeois was also a prolific painter and printmaker.

Louise Bourgeois, one of the most important female artists of the 20th century, she died in 2010 from a heart attack. She was 98.

Her work, which spanned nearly 60 years, ranged across all mediums and employed materials including bronze, fabric, steel and stone – but circled obsessively around themes of sexuality, mortality and violence.

She explored a variety of themes over the course of her long career including domesticity and the family, sexuality and the body, as well as death and the subconscious.

These themes connect to events from her childhood which she considered to be a therapeutic process. Bourgeois was not formally affiliated with a particular artistic movement.

"Louise Bourgeois never liked her father, overly. Nor he her."

He was really only repeating a part of the artist's own self-perpetuated legend, a story she told to herself and her art told the world.

"Everything I do is inspired by my early life," Bourgeois wrote in the 1980s, and what inspired her most was her father's affair with little Louise's English tutor, Sadie, whose neck, the artist said, many years later, she would like to wring.

That Bourgeois's art was an unending exorcism is not in doubt. Her 2007 Tate retrospective opened with a model of her parents' chateau, over which hung the blade of a large guillotine.

Writing on Freud, she said the psychoanalyst "did nothing for artists, or for the artist's problem, the artist's torment". Artists repeat themselves, she observed, "because they have no access to a cure". To be born an artist was both a privilege and a curse.


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