Monday, November 9, 2015

Urban Lady's Allure

November 2015
The French-American artist Louise Bourgeois was certainly an urban lady. She had all the family dysfunction  you could imagine but instead of taking out her hurts on others, she turned to art and the art world followed -  slowly. But it finally found and embraced her sculptures and later prints and drawings, although the latter  may not be as familiar to contemporary fans as her provocative and commanding sculptures. She is the spider woman, known best for the graceful but intimidating immense form she composed in many guises. (See it in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden, among other places.)
NGA currently offers a fine new exhibit of some of these lesser-known works in the West Wing, nearly all real and promised acquisitions for their Bourgeois collection. Curiously, one of the most arresting pieces on show is a small white sculpture (kept well protected so not to tempt prying fingers) illustrating the thrust of several fingers through a round base angled on its side.There is a suggestion of lusciousness in the shape, as NGA curator Judith Brodie  pointed out in a press preview, saying, coincidentally, how "Chocolate (for itself and as a subject) is very popular with artists." There's much to see in these two small rooms about variety of LB's creative impulses and their relation to the times. She grew up in the 'age of anxiety' so-called, a time when a existentialism was in flower thanks partly to Jean Paul Sartre. "No Exit," however , wasn't entirely a negative in her mind. It had also to do with free will  - the ability to choose one's life. Bourgeois did that to the end of her life, making freedom and positivity her hallmark, staying active and engaged until her death at 98 in 2010. 

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