Louise Bourgeois

  • Native Talent

    I FIRST ENCOUNTERED JOAN MIRÓ in Paris in the early ’30s. He did not know me, as I was only a student at the École des Beaux Arts and he was already famous, a protégé of Picasso, exhibiting at the Galerie Pierre. This space was located at the corner of the rue des Beaux Arts and the rue de Seine, only a few steps away from the École. I was living at 31 rue de Seine, where André Breton held court at his Gradiva gallery, and where Isadora and Raymond Duncan lived and had a gallery also.

    While attending the École, I walked by the Galerie Pierre every day on my way to lunch. I came to know Miró’s


    Like ancient sites abandoned for centuries, Louise Bourgeois’ sculptures remind me of the basic fact of impermanence, yet they can feel as familiar as a recurring dream suddenly recollected. In her installations, psychological relationships among objects are as important as formal ones: this work is sculpture but it is about memory, and the fragility and isolation of the individual—how even a heart of stone is as fragile as a bubble of glass, at the core nothing more than air and dust. Through her use of materials—found objects along with made sculptural elements—Bourgeois creates physical order


    SO GASTON LACHAISE HAD ONE GOD. And it was a woman, his wife. He put this particular woman on a pedestal, both figuratively and literally. What did he need from her? What did she give him? This remains the mysterious mechanism of a relationship that worked.

    Some artists, being masochists, must find a valid cause. They get a perverse pleasure out of suffering for the cause. They get their self-esteem from pain, in the overcoming of it. They are willing to pay in time, in labor, and in expertise for being listened to, considered, and noticed.

    Some artists function only in a “feed me” setup, meaning


    For over 40 years, beginning in the 1890s, Sigmund Freud collected antiquities—some 2,000 in all, primarily from ancient Egypt, classical Greece and Rome, the Near East, and the Orient. He displayed them in his study and in his consulting room, cased in glass, lined up on shelves and in vitrines and cabinets, and standing in a thick row along the front of his desk. Sixty-seven of these objects will be shown in the exhibition “The Sigmund Freud Antiquities: Fragments from a Buried Past,” curated by Lynn Gamwell for the University Art Museum of the State University of New York, Binghamton.

    WHEN I


    Some of us are so obsessed with the past that we die of it. It is the attitude of the poet who never finds the lost heaven and it is really the situation of artists who work for a reason that nobody can quite grasp. They might want to reconstruct something of the past to exorcise it. It is that the past for certain people has such a hold and such a beauty . . .

    Everything I do was inspired by my early life.

    On the left, the woman in white is The Mistress. She was introduced into the family as a teacher but she slept with my father and she stayed for ten years.