The French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is widely known for her gigantic spider sculptures, like the one at the Tate Modern in London, but she is so much more than that. I had never seen much of her art in person before, and since the exhibition of her late work The Woven Child at the Hayward Gallery will be closing on the 15th May, I made it a point to go there last week to see it.
I am not necessarily a huge fan of installation art, but there is something so visceral and moving about Bourgeois’ work that you feel you want to immerse yourself in it. Certainly step into her cages or cells, touch those floating bits of gauze, lace and other silk, which feel so vulnerable.
It is impossible not to be struck by the symbolism of the work. Some of it was too disturbing, too powerful for me to want to take a picture to share with others: couples embracing where the woman had a maimed limb, bodies hanging in various stages of distress… I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising. But others were more benign and profoundly moving.
Then there were the fabric heads with gaping mouths and flattened features – like a zombie army. So many ways to interpret this!
There were ‘prettier’, less visceral works on display too, full of literary allusions or nostalgia for long-gone places.
LATE ADDITION: I’ve just been made aware that there is a video of someone much more eloquent than me who can talk you through this wonderful exhibition, namely Deborah Levy.
7 thoughts on “Louise Bourgeois: More than Spiderwoman”
Her work is so powerful. I know exactly what you mean about it raising the hairs on your neck. Thanks for sharing!
I really had to sit down and recollect myself at times during the exhibition, it was so powerful. Not for everyone clearly, as there was a small group going through it chatting all the while (about other mundane matters).
She’s done some very powerful work, Marina Sofia! I felt the energy just looking at the photos (for which thanks); I’m sure it must be even more magnetic in person. I like the variations in what she does, too!
Yes, I didn’t include all of the pictures, but there was quite a lot of variety on display, even though this was all going back to just the fifteen last years of her life.
Gosh, looks stunning Marina – thanks for sharing these. Very visceral and powerful, yet I wouldn’t have necessarily expected those smaller, more intimate pieces. Thanks for the Levy link too – I’ll check that out!
Nope, I don’t like any of it, Thanks for showing the us highlights of the exhibit, though…