Louise Bourgeois: La Famille
Essay by Thomas Kellein. Text by Louise Bourgeois.
The fear of being born into the world an unwanted girl; the fear of becoming a pawn in the lives of her parents; the fear of failing as a wife, mother and artist: Over the course of her 70 years as an artist, Louise Bourgeois, born in 1911 in Paris, has always placed the psychology of family at the center of her work. Bourgeois left her homeland in 1938, without a degree, to live in New York with her husband, Robert Goldwater, a curator at The Museum of Modern Art. In 1940, the couple adopted their first son, and in 1941 Bourgeois gave birth to two more boys. Her artistic oeuvre deals almost exclusively with the fear of not being able to live up to the roles she was born into and took on. Most of her early works consisted of paintings on the theme of family, many of which have rarely, if ever, been reproduced. When she first began sculpting, she portrayed children and family members as stakes fatefully stuck in the ground, "Personnages," with windows and openings, who occasionally carried small packages, but who seemed mute and paralyzed. Her later work grew more sexualized, and after the death of her husband, she pursued the paternal element intensely. This thematic gathering of 20 paintings, more than 60 drawings, 35 sculptures and 5 embroideries made between 1935 and 2005 is also, by virtue of the centrality of family to her oeuvre, an overarching retrospective, a focused view of her career.