The Moderna Museet has curated an exhibition, named I Have Been to Hell and Back, of a hundred pieces strong, spanning seven decades of the Louise Bourgeois’ work, with nearly a third of the pieces having never been available for public viewing before. Bourgeois was an artist who shed the social expectations of what the female medium and themes of art were. work was highly personal, it encompassed sexual desire, the body and mental suffering which was triggered by her father’s infidelity throughout her childhood. The Moderna Museet is having a collection of her sculptures, paper, fabric and cells, showing off her variety of mediums. The cells she created were an encompassment of the pain she bore, whilst the paper/fabric pieces were more about sexuality and feminism, leaving the sculptures to focus around the body, although there were exceptions. This means that her work needs to be seen in abundance in order to see the full spectrums of themes that her work took on. Bourgeois created art that was bold, she created personal statements that were not easily forgotten.
Bourgeois style was both feminism and postmodernist, and she was particularly influential as a bridging point between modernism and postmodernism. She used a variety of materials to create her sculptures, creating juxtaposition and binary opposition between the male and female form, for example; using rough and course materials in order to create the soft form of femininity. Bourgeois also conveyed her ideas of the female, as an entity, via the use of symbolic objects, these include spirals, cages, medical tools and spiders.
Bourgeois’ spiders are amongst her most recognisable, with the pinnacle being Maman (1999), the great towering sculpture, measuring over 30ft tall, is currently being housed at the Moderna Museet as part of the exhibition. Maman, in french, is similar to the word for ‘mother’, as the spider is an ode to Bourgeois’ own mother who died when she was twenty one. Her mother was a weaver, and therefore the spider is fitting symbol. It stands for weaving, nurture and protection, the great spider even has an egg sac full of marble eggs to show that it is a mother. The original was made of steal, furthering the message of strength and there has been six more editions made of bronze after it. It is a truly awe inspiring piece that you should definitely go to see if it ever comes to a gallery near you.
To find out more about the exhibition go to the Moderna Museet’s website.