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Venice Pays First Major Tribute to Louise Bourgeois with Exhibition
Louise Bourgeois, "Crouching Spider", 2003. Steel, 106 1/2 x 329 x 24 inches. Courtesy Cheim & Read, Hauser & Wirth, and Galerie Karsten Greve. Photo: Christopher Burke.

VENICE.- During the preparation of her exhibition at the Magazzino del Sale in Venice, the sudden news arrived in the afternoon of Monday 31st May of Louise Bourgeois’s death.

Louise continued to work in her studio home in New York until the end, with the great energy and creative ability that typified her visual research: a life that coincides with her art. “Louise Bourgeois. The Fabric Works” is thus the last exhibition in which she was actively involved, participating with sensitivity and passion in every phase of its preparation; it has now become the first major tribute that the world of culture pays to a leading exponent of modern and contemporary art.

From 5 June al 19 September the Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova will expand the sphere and the area of its operation by adding to the Magazzino del Sale Emilio Vedova’s renovated Studio, at Zattere no. 50, which will become another public space for exhibitions and encounters with art. This enlargement coincides with the simultaneous staging of two important and original shows, organized by Germano Celant and devoted to previously unexplored aspects of the work of Louise Bourgeois, with the presentation of her ‘fabric drawings’, never exhibited all together before, and of the work of Emilio Vedova, with its powerful interweaving of painting and sculpture, never thoroughly analysed.

Presenting the work of a dominant figure in modern and contemporary art, the sculptor Louise Bourgeois, it has been curated by Germano Celant in collaboration with Jerry Gorovoy of the Louise Bourgeois Studio, New York. On show in the spectacular Venetian space, in an architectural setting designed to house drawings and sculptures, will be her almost unknown output of works made out of fabric, such as the rich series of her Fabric Drawings, created between 2002 and 2008, and the light presence of her Cells, like Conscious and Unconscious, 2008.

Principally montages, collages and assemblages of pieces of her own clothes and linen, these works have an unsettling and surprising energy that stems from their richness of colour and language, as well as from their symbolic and intimate character. Together with the large steel sculpture Crouching Spider, 2003, that opens the exhibition in Venice, they reflect a utilization of personal textiles, something which she began to do in the sixties, out of which the artist created drawings and sculptures. Many of them are made from her clothing and that of members of her family like her mother: a reincarnation of the past and of her childhood, as well as a testimony to her relationship with memory. A visual and plastic use of fabrics that transforms them from decorative accessories into emotional and sentimental allusions that serve, especially in the sewn reliefs and the Cells, as well as in her representations of the human figure and her relations with the other, from her father to her mother, to form images of a tormented but powerful femininity. A process that in 2002 underwent a further expansion when the sculptor of French origin, but now of American nationality, started to heighten, in the Fabric Drawings, the iridescence of the colours and the formal structuring of portions of fabric in order to construct interlacings that oscillate between floral configurations and chromatic abstractions which make up a collection of marvellous patterns. Bourgeois has explained what drove her to create these works in the following words: ‘I make drawings to suppress the unspeakable. The unspeakable is not a problem for me. It’s even the beginning of the work. It’s the reason for the work; the motivation of the work is to destroy the unspeakable. Clothing is also an exercise of memory. It makes me explore the past: how did I feel when I wore that? They are like signposts in the search of the past.’

Magazzino del Sale | Louise Bourgeois | Venice |

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