Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tate Modern at 10: Louise Bourgeois & Insomnia

Tate Modern©2010 Am Ang Zhang

I was at the Tate Modern with my wife the other day for their 10th Anniversary celebration.

When Tate Modern first opened 10 years ago Louise Bourgeois was the featured artist with her famous spider.
 Tate Modern
Then a couple of years back I saw the Crouching Spider in San Francisco.

Insomnia is bad for health: not so it seems for Louise Bourgeois who has been an insomniac since 1939 and she will soon be 100.

Louise Bourgeois en 1990 avec sa sculpture en marbre Eye to Eye (1970). 
© ADAGP, Paris, 2008.

© Photo: Raimon Ramis, D.R.

Kate Kellaway
The Observer,    Sunday 27 April 2008

The Queen of Insomnia (if she will permit the title) is the 96-year-old French artist Louise Bourgeois. Hers is a heartening case. She has been an insomniac since 1939 and, even in old age, has fierce things to say about it: 'I am insomniac, so the state of being asleep is paradise. It is a paradise I can never reach.' Yet, between November 1994 and June 1995, she produced a remarkable body of work, The Insomnia Drawings. Some are soothing abstracts - Bourgeois described working on them as 'a kind of rocking and stroking and an attempt at finding a kind of peace'. Others are sharper, more figurative (of water, houses, the figure of a woman). These are a way of dealing with traumatic experience (she had an abusive father, a traitor of a stepmother and, in her youth, tried to drown herself).

Curator Ann Coxon of Tate Modern believes insomnia is crucial to Bourgeois: 'She has to keep herself in that traumatised place to keep creating such amazing work.' What I find most interesting is that for Bourgeois art is an alternative to sleep: her drawings process trauma as dreams are supposed to do.

Art is a guarantee of sanity.
Louise Bourgeois

Tate Modern at 10: Guardian

Louise Bourgeois:PBS, Observer, Telegraph, San Francisco

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