May 31, 2010

"The subject of pain is the business I am in. To give meaning and shape to frustration and suffering."

"The existence of pain cannot be denied. I propose no remedies or excuses."

Said the grand sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who, at 98, has arrived at last at that remedy for pain which no one ever needed to propose.

At the age of 20, she studied math: "I got peace of mind... only through the study of rules nobody could change."

She moved on to art:
"I have a religious temperament," Ms. Bourgeois, a professed atheist, said about the emotional and spiritual energy that she poured into her work. "I have not been educated to use it. I’m afraid of power. It makes me nervous. In real life, I identify with the victim. That’s why I went into art."


c3 said...

Now we know these come in herds

EDH said...

Actually, Bourgeois' 1974 piece reminded me of the subject of Althouse's "reverse Bukkake" "Oh!" post from last night.

Her nightmarish tableau of 1974, “The Destruction of the Father,” for example, is a table in a stagily lighted recess, which holds an arrangement of breastlike bumps, phallic protuberances and other biomorphic shapes in soft-looking latex that suggest the sacrificial evisceration of a body, the whole surrounded by big, crude mammillary forms. Ms. Bourgeois has suggested as the tableau’s inspiration a fantasy from childhood in which a pompous father, whose presence deadens the dinner hour night after night, is pulled onto the table by other family members, dismembered and gobbled up.

Do both pieces of visual art represent a symbolic turning of the tables on men?

tim maguire said...

I identify with the victim. That’s why I went into art

Most people who chose their profession based on their identification with the victim go into law enforcement.

The Crack Emcee said...

I'd never heard of her before (many of the papers are making a big deal of her death, like she was someone I should've known about, but, so far, from what I've seen, her art sucks) and I was somewhat fascinated until I read this:

"I identify with the victim. That’s why I went into art."

That's some stupid shit to say. What does art have to do with identifying with victims? Art ain't tamed - it can make you a victim - will anyone explain this to me?

It sounds like nonsense - like her "art".

Methadras said...

Looking at her art makes me a victim at this point. I lift my glass to the death of another weak-spined waste of oxygen.

Sixty Grit said...

There were a few good sculptors in the 20th century. Ms. Bourgeois was not one of them.

chuck b. said...

"I lift my glass to the death of another weak-spined waste of oxygen."

It would be nice to get a Google alert when you die so I can do the same thing.

Paddy O said...

I don't know, she just seems so conventional to me--exemplifying the wan pathos of the middle class.

edutcher said...

"'I have a religious temperament,' Ms. Bourgeois, a professed atheist".

I see that and I think that she's trying to deny something.

I then see, "French-born American", and I think Jean Francois Kerry, and it all makes sense.

Palladian said...

"Looking at her art makes me a victim at this point. I lift my glass to the death of another weak-spined waste of oxygen."

At least her death merits a glass-raising. Your death won't be worth wasting a glass of wine, nor the energy required to lift it.

It's funny, the weirdly aggressive lashing-out at artists that happens here at Althouse. Granted, sometimes it's richly deserved, but more often it's just a thoughtless bit of aggression directed toward someone who has a much more interesting life than the average reactionary.

When I was a student I attended one of Ms Bourgeois' "salons" which she held nearly every week at her home in Chelsea. Artists could call and request an invitation and you could come over and drink and talk about each others' work, with Ms Bourgeois presiding over the strange affair. I can't say that I am terribly fond of her later work, or the irritating little drones that managed her affairs, but the generosity and intriguing nature of her attitude to other artists was rare and rather wonderful.

So in the name of artists everywhere: the great ones, the geniuses, the terrible ones, the attention whores and victims, the pained and the pusillanimous, the Renaissance men and the twee Impressionists, the overblown Germanics and the multiply-pierced art school boys and girls, the great abstractionists and the mediocre landscape painters, the pretentious video artists and the tendentious religious painters, from transcendent medieval illuminators to tiresome post-modern deconstructionists, on behalf of Louise and Leonardo and Andy and Claude and Duccio and Pablo and Christo and J.M.W and Jasper... from all of us to all of the mute inglorious Methadras' of the world: a hearty fuck you!


Be said...

Mistook her for Louise Nevelson when I first saw the news. How strange is that?

Can't say that I could stand too much of the later late Louise's work. Think she communicated the suffering a bit too effectively.

Find a lot of Nevelson's work soothing though, and maybe for the same reasons mathematics study appealed to Bourgeois. Don't know.

Joe said...

It's always sat when a shitty artist who knows how to exploit the pretentious and rich dies.

Palladian said...

Fuck you too, Joe :)

The Crack Emcee said...

LOL - to all of you, pro or con.


Sixty Grit said...

I have seen the works of Leonardo, and Bourgeois was no Leonardo.

lemondog said...

@ Palladian, would the artist prefer a neutral reaction or, regardless of approval, something honest and visceral?

Paddy O said...

"So in the name of artists everywhere..."

We can always depend on Palladian for a little thoughtful aggression around the Althouse blog. That's one of the reasons it's still a great place to hang out.

Hamish said...

Louise Bourgeois was an incredible artist who will be missed. Her presence will live on of course, through her works left behind. Public art like the iconic Maman on display in Ottawa will preserve her memory. There is more information on her at Canada’s Got Treasures, which is also a space where you can share your media.

Canada's Got Treasures, a VMC initiative