We’re starting a new article and interview series on AMO called Artist’s Market Online Remembers. Every week or so I’ll post a “new” article or artist interview from the Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market and Photographer’s Market archive. To start, I’ve posted a 2007 interview with sculptor Louise Bourgeois. You can see the complete Louise Bourgeois interview here, or read on for Louise Bourgeois’s biography, Louise Bourgeois quotes and an excerpt from the artist interview.
Louise Bourgeois Biography
There must be at least one thing that every artist could learn or be inspired by when hearing Louise Bourgeois’ phenomenal success story. At 94, she’s America’s oldest—and most famous—controversial artist. Bourgeois may be looking a little more delicate these days and getting about with the use of a walker, but that quintessential Mona Lisa smile remains and she’s still going strong artwise.
Major museums worldwide vie to exhibit Bourgeois’ sculpture, and she continues producing new work. Her upcoming list of exhibitions includes a retrospective at the Tate Modern in London, which will travel to the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, followed by the Guggenheim in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A.
As a young artist, Bourgeois had to navigate between exiled European artists and the New York School of which she was a founding member. She married the American art historian, Robert Goldwater, and together they shared friendships with such luminaries as Miró (a close friend) and Duchamp, who she knew in Paris. She later met Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline and de Kooning. She fully experienced the difficulties of being a woman artist, but continued to persevere.
Bourgeois has never remained static. Early on she was constantly redefining her work. In the early 1960s she moved from the rigidity of carving wood to creating labyrinthine spirals and lairs in plaster and latex. Her courage to maintain an ongoing process of self-discovery—that has often hinged on less-than-popular themes and imagery—is a monumental reason why her vision has never gone out of style.
Louise Bourgeois Quotes
“I’m neither a preacher nor a teacher.”
“If the artwork is true, then it will communicate and have value to others.”
“Trust yourself. In your art you must tell your own story and if you tell your own story, you will be interesting.”
“My art is a form of psychoanalysis. I was able to exorcise my demons through art.”
Louise Bourgeois Interview Excerpt
Can you give us the short version of Louise Bourgeois’ early years?
I was born in Paris in 1911. My parents were in the business of tapestry restoration. At an early age I began to draw in the missing parts of the tapestry to be rewoven. My father wanted me to continue in the family business, but my mother was a feminist and wanted me to become educated. All of the women in my family were hard workers. When my mother was ill, I took care of her. It was after she died that I abandoned mathematics and philosophy and began to study art at various academies.
How did you get into art?
In Paris, my teachers offered me the possibility of a world outside the family business. My father was not happy with my pursuit of art. He played the tough love card. I needed to support myself to study. My father thought artists were parasites and were seducing everyone. He wanted me to get married. My inability to deal with the death of my mother had everything to do with me running from art school to art school. I was fighting for my survival. That’s how deep the trauma was.
What would be the highlight of your career?
My favorite piece is always the one I’m working on now. At this time, I’m focused on a sculpture that is a fountain for a park in Seattle. The sculpture is called, “Father and Son,” and consists of two figures cast in stainless steel. The water is used to hide and reveal these figures alternatively. The work is about miscommunication. The figures’ hands are reaching out towards each other in attempt and a desire to communicate, but the endeavor is doomed.
If you enjoy this interview, check out these other artist interviews on Artist’s Market Online: