May 31st, 2010
“On a shady, tree lined street in New York’s Chelsea, Louise Bourgeois lives in a townhouse identifiable by the curved iron gating which the sculptor herself created. Like everything else about Bourgeois, it is unique. Formerly occupied by a pornographic photographer and used as a boarding house for sailors docked at the nearby Hudson River, the house is narrow and utilitarian. Climbing the steps, one enters an arena thoroughly devoted to the making, pondering and discussing of art.“
Quote and images from W of I November 1998.
It was the summer of 2000 and The Tate Modern had just opened. I was in a summer course at Fitzwilliam College entertaining myself by sketching English rococo picture frames at the Fitzwilliam Museum. My classmate Deborah had an acquaintance Jessica who had a place in London not far from the British Library with whom we would stay on the weekends. Jessica was red haired and intense and didn’t properly rinse her dishes. I was drinking a lot of instant coffee or beer depending on the hour. One evening over a beer, Jessica who worked for a PR firm, told me that her favorite artist had paid her a compliment. Louise Bourgeois had held her hand and said that she was a dear. Jessica told that I should go to the Tate Modern and see her work.
In my fashion I didn’t know that Tate Modern was a Power Station converted by Herzog & de Meuron. I walked down into the building and with great surprise I came upon the spider sculpture Maman not quite knowing what to feel. I was in the presence of something that was impactful beyond its physical immensity but uncertain as to what it meant.
Louise Bourgeois December 25, 1911 – May 31, 2010.