The Drawers - Louise Bourgeois   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Louise Bourgeois

She is The Role Model of tenacity, endurance, and generosity of self and spirit. First trained as a mathematician, she switched and attended the Ecole Du Louvre and The Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris where she also worked as an assistant to Fernand Leger. She married an American and moved to New York City where she studied with the Art Students League of New York. Although she had been a vigorous practitioner of her art forms through out her life, it wasn't until she was in her sixties, (which was in the seventies) and after the deaths of her husband and father, that she achieved recognition. In 1993, she represented America at the Venice Biennale.

Today, in the same house that she lived in with her husband, with a fading elegance topped by high shuttered windows that look onto a tangled garden that feels more like Europe than America; Louise continues to be a vital part of the growth of art. She hosts her Sunday salons where a small group of artists have one chance to visit the great artist and present what it is that they do. She doesn't appreciate return visits for she understands that her granting audience is an afternoon that many have veered towards and will continue to do so. It is indeed a privilege to be present as she teeters into the salon with the help of her walker. She nods and approves or with a slight wave of her hand signals for the next presenter. The company is international, men and women. Although on the treasured occasion of my visit, it was primarily women.

This occasion is second only to the primary one - that of being in the presence of her work and this will endure long after her small time upon this earth. She has brought to light themes that have been at the heart of women's issues including incest, betrayal and childbirth. The etchings that follow relate to her adulterous father who had an affair with her governess, one that her mother refused to acknowledge. Best known for her cells and more recently her spiders, the great sculpture that rests outside of The National Gallery of Canada is titled Maman. The great role of matriarch is assigned to Louise Bourgeois.

Julie Oakes Copyright 2008 Headbones Gallery