Tuesday, February 06, 2024

The books of Louise Bourgeois

At the age of 91 years, Louise Bourgeois created Ode a L'Oubli, (Ode to Forgetting),  a book of 35 fabric pages made from her own saved clothing.    (2002)  

In the catalog for the 2022 exhibition, Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child, Bourgeois' books are shown as grids so that we can see all the pages at one time.  Each of Louise’s pages is about 11 x 12 inches.  If you want to see how this book looks when it is closed, or opened page by page, go to this link:  MOMA.  

In 2004, she made another book, The Woven Child

All of the pages in The Woven Child were woven from strips of fabric.

Within the grid of straight weave, she depicted her favourite motifs.  The hand, the house, the female body, the pregnant body, the human head.

She used her own clothing to make the pages, saved for decades.

Ode a la Bievre was made in 2007, when the artist was 96 years old.  It is about the river that she grew up on in France.

She made The Fragile in 2007 as well.  Not a book but a suite of drawings/paintings relating to mother/child ideas of the artist.  She said that her mother was like a spider, always able to repair the web, a strong and yet vulnerable being.  One of Bourgeois most famous works is her set of several steel spiders, made in many versions and stand as large outdoor sculptures outside of the world's great art museums.  See the Guggenheim spider at this link.

Eugenie Grandet 2009

A suite of embroidered illustrations that interpret the main female character in the novel by Honore Balzac, which was about a young woman named Eugenie who was not able to be romantically fulfilled because of her tyrannical father.  Read more about it and about why Louise Bourgeois wanted to make this suite of embroideries in this Guardian article from 2011.  

Louise Bourgeois died in 2010, at the age of 99.   That she carried on creating original work until the end is very inspiring for all of us.  The work she made in her 80's and 90's is uplifting, personal, and made from memory cloth.  It is inspiring for anyone who works with stitch.  I have studied her work for years, and have written about her many times on this blog (10 times!  click here) and also twice on the Modernist Aesthetic blog.   

The newest post on modernist aesthetic is Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child


Anonymous said...

Hello, I am so happy to see your post on Louise Bourgeois! I made a quilted book a bit ago - I sent you an email on it. Her book Ode to Fogetting was one of my inspirations for my book. Cheers, Louise of Vestal, NY

Liesbeth Williams said...

I travelled a long distance to see a Louise Bourgeois exhibition in London. I was moved and excited by the directness of her work. Her use of domestic textiles chimes strongly with me. Tea towels! I love Ode a L'Oubli. Thank you for showing all these images.

Anonymous said...

My 40 page quilted book inspired by Louise Bourgeois can be found here: http://quiltpapers.blogspot.com/2023/02/louises-scrap-book-of-quilts.html

Cheers, Louise