Feminism & Art : Louise Bourgeois

This Grand old lady is discussing the role of the female in a world dominated by males. She is one of the few artists capable of making abstract art that really feels erotic. Her work can not be considered erotic art in the usual way, but I do think her sexual themed work has its place on the Art of Love.

My first encounter with the work of Louise Bourgeois was at a large exhibit in the Kruller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands. At that time I was still an art student myself and her work was both an inspiration and a liberation for me. The installations and erotic sculptures of Louise Bourgeois showed me a new vision of art and its capability to communicate. It also showed me that art should brake with tradition and that art is all about personal exploration. From day one, when I started to write for the Art of Love, the art of Louise Bourgeois was on my list of artists to write about. Mainly because she is one of the few artists that is capable of making conceptual art that really feels erotic and has something to say, well actually a lot, about sexuality and the role of the female in a male dominated world. But writing about the work of Louise Bourgeois is not an easy thing to do. The problem is that she uses a lot of open references, abstractions and concepts at the same time. Besides this a lot of her art can only get its meaning in relation with her other work.

The penis is the ultimate symbol of masculinity
One thing that has a large role in her work is the phallus, well in normal words the penis. And you shouldn’t forget that she’s a female and that she is raised by a feminist mother. In her early work she uses these penises as the ultimate symbol of masculinity. She cuts them open, hangs them on hooks and she even fills entire body’s with them. In one of her installations she has a small room with on the front something that could be a window. Behind that window you see red light. But there is no hooker standing behind the window presenting herself. You see soft abstract penises sticking out of the floor and ceiling. Not the woman but the males are on display here. An other large part of her work are the soft landscapes and couple series. The soft landscapes are clustered soft phalluses in wax or bronze. The couples are pink cloth puppets in all kind of sexual or intimate positions. but not all her work is erotic by it’s nature, a lot are visualized memories of her childhood.

After writing this i still think I somehow missed the point. Her art is something you have to see in real, it needs interpretation when you are face to face with the artwork. The good thing is that a lot of contemporary museums have some work of Bourgeois. And if you encounter one of her works, just stand in front of it and take your time. For me this Grand old lady is still an inspiration and I consider her as one of the most important artists of the past century.


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