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December 2013


ARTIST ROOMS Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets

Posted October 31, 2013 by artBahrain in Museums

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 
Edinburgh, UK
Until 18 May 2014


Louise Bourgeois. Photo by Mark Setteducati. Copyright: The Easton Foundation

Louise Bourgeois. Photo by Mark Setteducati. Copyright: The Easton Foundation


The National Galleries of Scotland is proud to announce a major presentation of works by the great American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) in an exhibition entitled Louise Bourgeois: A Woman without Secrets at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art from 26 October to 18 May 2014.

Highlighting her late work, the exhibition is a first showing of an outstanding collection of works by Louise Bourgeois now on loan to the national ARTIST ROOMS programme, including ‘Poids’ 1993, ‘Couple I’ 1996, ‘Cell XIV (Portrait)’ 2000, ‘Eyes’2001-2005, and two late masterpieces, the cycle of 14 monumental drawings ‘A L’Infini’ 2008-2009 and the artist’s final vitrine, ‘Untitled’ 2010. These works will be augmented by important loans from Tate, the Easton Foundation and the Louise Bourgeois Trust in New York. This exhibition will reveal how Bourgeois, working in a variety of materials and scales, explores the mystery and beauty of human emotions.

Bourgeois, Louise Sainte Sébastienne, 2006 Tapisserie des Gobelins 340 x 250 cm Mobilier national © Mobilier national / Isabelle Bideau

Bourgeois, Louise
Sainte Sébastienne, 2006
Tapisserie des Gobelins
340 x 250 cm
Mobilier national
© Mobilier national / Isabelle Bideau

ARTIST ROOMS is jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate and was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour is a partnership with Arts Council England, the Art Fund, and in Scotland, Creative Scotland, making available the ARTIST ROOMS collection to galleries and museums throughout the UK. Intended to inspire audiences, particularly young people, there have been more than 110 ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions, seen by some 25 million visitors since the touring programme was launched in 2009.

Louise Bourgeois: A Woman without Secrets has been organised in collaboration with Jerry Gorovoy of the Louise Bourgeois Studio and The Easton Foundation, which has very generously lent a number of major sculptural works including Spiral Woman, 1984 and a giant Spider from 1994. The exhibition is further augmented through the loan of several key works from Tate’s collection, including Avenza, 1968-9, Cell (Eyes and Mirrors), 1989-93 and a group of late works in red gouache, dating from 2007-9.

Complementing the exhibition, The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh will be presenting a majorexhibition of Bourgeois’s works on paper.  Louise Bourgeois I Give Everything Away, curated by Frances Morris (Tate Modern) features the artist’s Insomnia Drawings, a remarkable suite of 220 drawings and writings on loan from the Daros Collection, alongside a selection of works from the Louise Bourgeois Trust.  This exhibition also opens on 26 October, and runs until 23 February 2014.

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was born in France and studied with Fernand Léger in Paris during the 1930s. She moved to New York in 1937, following her marriage to Robert Goldwater, an authority on African art and Director of the Museum of Primitive Art, who died in 1973.  Bourgeois’ earliest works were often seen in the context of Surrealism.  It was not until the last quarter of her career, when she entered an extraordinarily fertile period of creativity – in part due to her researches into psychoanalysis – that her achievements became recognised.

Bourgeois’ work expresses strongly autobiographical concerns, and many of her sculptures and drawings explore recollections from her childhood or reflect on her complex relationships with her parents. The family business of tapestry restoration also provided a primary source for her work. Her connection to this French tradition can be found in the materials she chose to use, her focus on the activity of sewing and mending and is found spatially in her construction of rooms, cells and hanging forms. She often indicated that she felt a prisoner to her memories and aimed to exorcise them, once saying, ‘I am a woman without secrets. Anything private should not be a risk, it should be a result, which should be understood, resolved, packaged and disposed of’. Her confrontation of such burdens through psychoanalysis became a fundamental part of her work and is echoed in the titles of the two exhibitions opening in Edinburgh.

Despite the deeply personal references to her own life in her work, as well as to a range of art historical movements, Bourgeois’ unique visual language ultimately reaches beyond both, raising universal questions about life and art. In particular, ideas of womanhood and its various guises including the roles of daughter, wife, mother and lover are explored through a vocabulary of recurring motifs: spiders, spirals, the ‘arch of hysteria’, double forms and entwined fabric bodies. The materials Bourgeois chose to use, including traditional bronze and marble, as well as fabrics, rubber and found objects, were an essential part of her practice, often employed radically to highlight the interplay between opposites such as male and female, father and mother, soft and hard, exterior and interior, fear and calm, and vulnerability and strength.

A fully illustrated catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, made possible with support from Hauser & Wirth and The Easton Foundation.

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