The French/American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) is one of the great figures of modern and contemporary art. During a career spanning seventy years, Bourgeois produced an astonishing array of sculptures, installations, paintings, drawings and prints that express a highly individual imagination. Bourgeois constantly challenged conventional means of creating works of art, and through her unique visual language she examined the complexity of life and emotions.
The works that have been brought together as part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection include sculptures, works on paper and fabric pieces. Focusing primarily on the artist’s late work, they show how Bourgeois used diverse materials such as bronze, marble, steel, fabric and lead as well as text and drawing to investigate what it means to be human. These works introduce central subjects and themes that Bourgeois investigated in her art.
For Louise Bourgeois, making art offered the opportunity to address and understand difficult issues or emotions. ‘I am a woman without secrets,’ Bourgeois once commented, ‘Anything private should not be a risk, it should be a result, it should be understood, resolved, packaged, and disposed of’ (quoted in Askew 2013, p.21).
Despite this statement, much of Bourgeois’s work is concerned with the idea that uncertainty and contradictory forces determine our lives. Her imagery deals with human relationships and cycles of life including childhood and motherhood, as well as issues concerning the body, sexuality and the erotic, memory, observation and surveillance, and the acts of repairing and forgiveness. Throughout these themes, Bourgeois explored the nature of emotions, from fear, jealousy and pain, to joy, passion and contentment.
Lucy Askew, Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets, exhibition catalogue, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh 2013.