Spiderwoman RIP

The death has occurred of artist Louise Bourgeois, aged 98.   I can’t say I liked or appreciated her art at all, most of which I found unsettling, sinister and off-putting.   Her art did not communicate anything pleasant or subtle, at least not to me, but perhaps that was her intention, or else I was not in her target audience.   Her art was also obsessive (all those spiders, for goodness sake!) and very literal-minded (every one of them with exactly 8 legs).  Somehow we expect our artists, of all people, to have more imagination than this.    Bourgeois appears to have been true to her own vision and to her own self, but that does not mean she was someone I would want to spend any time with.
Perhaps I was not the only person repelled by her art and the personality it revealed.   In gallery Dia: Beacon, upriver from New York City,  Bourgeois’ art is placed in a small upstairs room on its own, hidden away from the other work like some Mrs Rochester of the art world.  Perhaps the curators thought her work would infect the wonderful minimalist and conceptual art for which the gallery is rightly known; her work certainly seems out of place in this gallery.  As elsewhere, I found her art there unpleasant, and a whole room full was overwhelmingly repellent.  Indeed, the one great work in that room you only see as you descend the steps to leave, and is not by her or by any artist.  In this former printing factory, the wall next to the steps is the original external red-brick factory wall, covered in some places with a white dust, and left as it presumably was when the gallery took over the building.  This subtle, spiritual wall with its geometric pattern of red bricks overlaid with random splotches of white is the only interesting or pleasant artwork in the Bourgeois room at Dia:Beacon.  It says something about Bourgeois’ art (or perhaps about my taste) that the packaging here is much better art than any of the objects inside it.

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