Laura Owens and Édouard Louis

In this episode of “Artists On Writers | Writers On Artists,” painter Laura Owens talks to author Édouard Louis about the necessity of leaving home, embracing the artifacts of one’s childhood, and how art does, and does not, change the world.

Laura Owens’s current exhibition, “Laura Owens: Rerun,” was organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and is on view at Transformer Station in Cleveland, Ohio through May 30th. This summer, the exhibition “Laura Owens and Vincent Van Gogh” is slated to open at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles in France.

Édouard Louis’s Combats Et Métamorphoses d’une Femme (Struggles and Metamorphosis of a Woman) will be published on April 1st by Seuil. Later this year, he will perform the stage adaptation of his novel Qui a tué Mon Pére(Who Killed My Father) at the Schaubühne in Berlin, Germany.

“Artists On Writers | Writers On Artists” brings together luminaries in the fields of art and literature to have the conversations they themselves wish to have. This bi-weekly web series is a joint production of Artforumand Bookforum, and is sponsored by the Morgan Library & Museum.

Laura Owens lives and works in Los Angeles. Her exhibition Laura Owens: Rerun was developed through a series of conversations over two years between Owens and high school students participating in the museum’s Arts Mastery Curation program. Together the group looked at the history of the museum's Education Art Collection, which was created to be shared with Cleveland-area schools for educational purposes; at the museum’s library archive of Cleveland-area high school newspapers; and Owens's own Ohio high school art. The exhibition is the culmination of their unique collaboration and features new and existing works by Owens selected by the high school students.

In the summer of 2021, Owens will present new paintings, books, films, and painted wallpaper alongside works by Vincent van Gogh at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles. Owens’s work will be a response to her time living in Arles (including the COVID-19 lockdown); the history of the city, which experienced a severe cholera epidemic in the early 19th century; and several stories she encountered such as the chronicle of the horse Maurocco and his trainer who were burned at the stake after being accused of witchcraft. The show will also highlight the work of Winifred How, a little-known early 20th-century artist whose college portfolio Owens discovered at a rare book fair. Additionally, the exhibition responds to van Gogh’s paintings, images, colors, methods and materials, and the manner in which he addressed indoor and outdoor spaces in Arles.

Owens’s most recent exhibitions include an immersive painting on wallpaper at House of Gaga, Mexico City; a show of handmade artist's books on interactive tables at Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles; and a large-scale painting for the ceiling of Sant'Andrea de Scaphis, a deconsecrated church in Rome. Last year, her monumental mosaic-tile mural was unveiled at LaGuardia Airport's newly opened Terminal B. In 2017, she was the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art and The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles the following year. She has previously had solo exhibitions at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2016); Secession, Vienna (2015); and Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2011). Owens studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (1992) and California Institute of Arts (1994).

Édouard Louis is the author of the international bestsellers En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule(The End of Eddy, 2014) and Histoire de la Violence (History of Violence, 2016), which along with his novel Qui a tué mon Père(Who Killed My Father, 2018) was adapted for the stage and directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Louis is also the editor of a scholarly work on the social scientist Pierre Bourdieu. Compared to Jean Genet by The Paris Review, his work deals with sexuality, class, and violence. Louis was born Eddy Bellegeule in the working-class village of Hallencourt in northern France, and he attended the École Normale Supérieure and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.