Over de expositie
The world-famous, American artist Louise Bourgeois, presented for the first time ever in Denmark, spans the greater part of the 20th century. Born in 1911 in France, she was young in Paris along with Surrealism. Later, she moved to America where her career as an artist gained momentum in the late 1940s, at a time when the renowned abstract painters of this period made their breakthrough. Since the 1960s she has been a leading figure in the rebellion against precisely modernistic abstract art. In the 1980s she gained major international recognition, and today her fame has reached its pinnacle with the opening exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2000 and the Documenta 2002 show in Kassel.
The exhibition at Louisiana offers a retrospective view of her life’s work from 1945 to the present, an oeuvre greatly varied in its expression and basically existential. The presentation includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints and installations as well as a very recent audio-work, a recording of the 91-year old artist herself chanting the French children’s songs of her childhood, adding yet another thread to an extensive web linking memory and the present. The materials employed in this amazing oeuvre range from the traditional marble and bronze to latex, nylon stockings, unravelled, reused items of clothing, found objects, and, lately, Louise Bourgeois’s own rusty voice as a poetic and coarsened thread – immaterial, yet of intense physical presence.
The profoundly personal is fundamental to her art, as indicated by the title chosen for the exhibition: Life as Art. The existential condition of man – what Louise Bourgeois herself calls the drama of the one among the others – is reflected in her work in the interplay between brutality and vulnerability. Viewed in a life-long perspective, her art is predominantly concerned with finding ways of getting in touch with our innermost human feelings. These feelings form the core of her artistic expression, and their close association with the artist’s own life is never denied. Quite the contrary.
The human body has likewise been central to Bourgeois’s art with its almost mythological fusion of body and sculpture – whether represented as the rigid, totem pole-like figures of her early work, or fatefully associated with
the houses of her childhood and, later on, those of the metropolis. The same holds true of the upright figures of the 1960s, dissolving into a new kind of landscape by a radical extension of form, and the extraordinary cells of the 1990s. Her gigantic spider sculptures, also of the 1990s, touch the anthropomorphic, grey areas of the Surrealists.
By expressing other truths, viewed in relation to modernism, about the development of visual art in the second half of the 20th century - and about human existence altogether - her work places 20th-century art in a different perspective than that which Louisiana’s collection, broadly speaking, represents.
Louise Bourgeois – Life as Art has come about through a collaboration between the artist and Julie Sylvester, curator at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, who created an exhibition for this museum that has since travelled to Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo. More than a third of the works displayed at Louisiana come from this touring exhibition, while the remainder have been made available on loan from private and public collections in Europe and the United States, specially for this presentation at Humlebaek.
The Louisiana Revy and Louisiana Magasin no. 8
The exhibition catalogue, published as a volume of the Louisiana Revy, features three texts by Louise Bourgeois: ”He Disappeared into Complete Silence”, ”Declarations 1988” and ”The View from the Bottom of the Well”; two essays: ”Body and Space” by Penelope Vinding and ”Spaces In Between” by Louisiana’s director Poul Erik Tøjner, as well as a work list and a biography of the artist.
The new Louisiana Magasin no. 8 contains an essay entitled ”Louise at Louisiana” by curator Anders Kold and a presentation by Poul Erik Tøjner of the Louise Bourgeois Album, published by Peter Blum Edition, New York, 1994, available at the Museum Shop in a very limited edition.
The film ”No Trespassing” by Nigel Finch, Arena Films, BBC, London, 1994, will be shown at the Louisiana Cinema, with Danish subtitles.
Louise Bourgeois Photos at the Museum Shop
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum Shop will display a series of photos shot in 1995 and 1998 by the Swedish photographer Mathias Johansson in Louise Bourgeois’s studio in New York. In his portrayal of the artist herself and in the documentation of her everyday environment, Mathias Johansson draws the outlines of an extraordinary artist’s life. The photos will be for sale.