Sunday, January 11, 2015

Louise Bourgeois: Suspension

Louise Bourgeois LEGS 2001
76 x 34 x 22 1/2 inches
193 x 86.4 x 57.2 centimeters

I am most interested in mature artists making great works throughout their careers and especially in their later years.  Often artist’s work can be considered better as they evolve.

The recent show Louise Bourgeois: Suspension at Cheim & Read (October 30, 2014 - January 10, 2015) is a fine example of greatness in later years. Many of the art works found in this show were created when Bourgeois was 91 years young.

The sculptures in this magnificent exhibition all hang from the ceiling. Along with a group of drawings from the 1940s, in which pendulous forms are delineated in black ink, the selection of works traces the theme of suspension throughout Bourgeois’s long career. Spanning more than forty-five years – from the organic Lair forms of the early 1960s and the Janus series of 1968, to the cloth figures of the 1990s, the hanging heads of the 2000s, and the torqued spirals of shining aluminum made in the last years of Bourgeois’s life – they demonstrate the myriad ways in which she approached material, form, and scale.

Most interesting is her explanation and approach to the works. For Bourgeois, the sculptures’ suspension is an expression of the psyche; as she stated: “Horizontality is a desire to give up, to sleep. Verticality is an attempt to escape. Hanging and floating are states of ambivalence.”  In psychology, ambivalence refers to conflicting but coexisting feelings for the same person, place, or event.

I found the hanging pieces and the installation very playful and humorous in spite of the artist’s serious references. The technical execution of each sculpture is absolutely beautiful.  

It was truly a wonderful moment with a great artist, Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010).