Louise Bourgeois France / US 1911-2010
I have wanted to present a lesson on Louise Bourgeois for quite awhile, and now seems like the perfect time to coincide with the exhibit of Christopher Marley's Exquisite Creatures at OMSI and Halloween. Louise Bourgeois was born on Christmas day in Paris. Her first creative experience was in her family's gallery and antique tapestry restoration workshop. She entered the Sorbonne to study mathematics and made a major life-altering switch to art. For several years she also studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and the École du Louvre where she was mentored by the artist Fernand Léger. In 1938, Louise Bourgeois met and married the American art historian Robert Goldwater and moved to New York. During her career, she taught at Cooper Hewitt and Pratt Institute and exhibited with the major Abstract Expressionist artists, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. She became best known for her large-scale sculptures and installations inspired by her memories and experiences. In 1982, at the age of 71, Louise Bourgeois became the first female artist to be honored with a major retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art. She explored painting, printmaking, and sculpture, but described her spider sculptures as her most successful subject. In 1994, Bourgeois installed her first large-scale Spider at the Brooklyn Museum. In 2000, following a decade of international exhibitions and awards, the Tate Gallery of Modern Art commissioned Bourgeois for the inaugural installation of the museum’s new location in London. She presented a thirty-foot steel and marble spider "Maman ". “The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. Like spiders, my mother was very clever, helpful and protective". She had the first show of a living American artist at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. In 2001 a major retrospective of her work was organized by the Tate Modern in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Among her numerous awards, she was named Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, the Grand Prix National de Sculpture from the French government, and the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Clinton. In 2008, at the age of 96, the French Legion of Honor medal was presented to her by President Nicolas Sarkozy in the artist’s Chelsea home.
Throughout her life she was a strong supporter of women's equality and LGBT rights, but refused to be called a ‘feminist artist’, feeling that it was reductive. She described her work simply as autobiographical and dealt with universal emotions, which she referred to as “ pre-gender.” With a career spanning eight decades from the 1930s until 2010, she is one of the great figures of modern art.
EXQUISITE CREATURES @ OMSI I have a fascination with insects and we actually did a week at summer camp focusing on bugs. From an artistic and engineering perspective, they are unequaled. I recently attended Christopher Marley's exhibit at OMSI, which is quite amazing. I still have so many questions regarding the ethics of collecting from nature, but that aside, it is one of the most esthetic and well-curated exhibits I have seen and quite awe-inspiring. His work is in more than 500 galleries and his images have been licensed by the World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic Explorer, the Royal Society of London. He is actually from the Northwest and maintains studios in Willamette Valley and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His first book, “Pheromone, The Insect Art of Christopher Marley” was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by The Times (UK) and his second book, “Biophilia” (Abrams, 2015) by the New York Times.
The " Art Stars" did a very sophisticated process to create images inspired by Louise and Christopher Marley. After selecting an image they created free hand drawings , traced those and transfered the tracings to a foam plate. Then they carved into the plate and cut out the image. We inked the plate to create the print. When the images were dry they hand colored them with colored pencils. Whew ! All withing a few hours. They are aso great. A few students even had time to create bug sculptures. Well done !