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The late (Athenian) triumph of Louise Bourgeois

09 May 2010 / 15:05:28  GRReporter
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Her numerous pieces of white plaster male phallus, exposed in the New York Guggenheim Museum in 2008 do not shock but they attract and elicit smiles. On her most famous portrait from 1982, made by the photographer Robert Meypaltorp, the warm smiling wrinkled face of the artist stands beside huge male genitalia and radiates femininity, vulnerability and strength at the same time as well as genuine sexuality. Ascetic "Female skyscrapers", exhibited in London's Tate Modern in 2007 actually show magnificence and luxury - the spiritual magnificence and creative luxury that are typical for the art of the biggest name in women's contemporary art.
    In such a male dominated world even being named Louise Bourgeois and carrying in your heart imagination and creative dash with the power of a nuclear power plant the success does not come easily. Her first retrospective exhibition she makes at the age of... 71 years not anywhere else but in the MOMA in New York in 1982, she waits another 5 years to make her first exhibition in Europe, another 10 to receive her first prize "Golden Lion". In order to get to 2008, when personally the French President Nicolas Sarkozy awards her the Order of the French Legion in her own home. Fortunately, except with enormous talent fortune has endowed her with longevity. At the age of 99 years she continues to live in her home on West 20th Street in New York and continues to be an inspiration to millions of women worldwide in their pursuit of creative freedom.
    Considered for decades to be one of the symbols of feminism in recent years, Louise Bourgeois says she is tired of the too simplistic and single sided interpretations of her works. In different periods of her work she was also close to the expressionists, and to the Surrealists, and to the modernists as well, she has felt the influence of Max Ernst and Constantine Brankuzi and she herself has influenced Eva Hesse, Jonathan Borowski, Annette Mesazhe. She was part of the circle of Le Corbusier, Miro and Tangi and she could easily be put next to Picasso and Andy Warhol. But her work is deeply personal – the figurativeness is her main feature inextricably combined with the abstract and full of geometry in which the expressionism is existentialism and the individual is mythologized.
    “Every day one should renounce his past, ie to accept it, when a person fails to accept it, he becomes a sculptor.” These words of Louise Bourgeois are actually the key to the interpretation of all her work - a continuous throwback to the past, to the childhood trauma, to the liberation from them, a continuous reproduction of her fighting spirit. Born in 1911 in Paris, her parents restored old tapestries. For 10 years along with her family lives also her governess, who it's not hiding, she is the father's mistress. Louise studies briefly mathematics at the Sorbonne, and attends the painting schools of Fernand Leger, Andre Lott, Cassandra and Paul Collin. In 1938 she gets married to the American art historian Robert Goldwater and settles in New York, where he lives until today.
    Although Bourgeois is world famous for her sculptures – spiders, which even give her the nickname of the Spider Woman, her work is leaning on her personal background and personal experience, and beats in its own biorhytm. Opened for any types of material - plaster, plastic, fabric, wood, cement, latex, rubber, bronze, marble. Recurrent forms exist in cells, caves and holes and suggest a deep sexuality of her works. The techniques are also unlimited - from painting and drawing to engraving, from sculpture to architecture. Her style can be defined as "emotional individualism" and as correctly observes an art critic, Louise Bourgeois is not among the artists who run after fashion, it is just the opposite – among those waiting for fashion to overtake them.
    The late triumph ofLouise Bourgeois touches also Athens. Until September 12, 2010 at the Museum of Cycladic Art in the Greek capital can be seen in her older series of characters. Created in the period 1947 - 1953 ridged elongated figures were originally carved from wood with the idea to be made in bronze. With the dimensions of living people the figures stand in groups a kind of social groups of standing figures. Combined with slender cloth columns the cycle of characters is one of the works of the artist which have the greatest influence on modern art of the 20th century.
    It will be accompanied by the impressive sculpture Avenza Revisited II (image 2) on which the artist works in the period 1968-1969 year. Louise Bourgeois describes the figure as part of the series of anthropomorphic landscapes and it is inspired by the homonymous Italian town famous for its marble quarries. In the stylish building at the corner of streets Vassilis Sofiyas and Neofitos Doukas we will also see her more recent series of red gouache - another testimony of how obsessed is Bourgeois with the idea of relationships, family, sex, pregnancy and raisin children. Curator of the exhibition is Gregor Muir, director of London's Hauser & Wirth.

Tags: Louise Bourgeois Museum of Cycladic Art Nine muses art
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