Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Most famous for her larger than life sculptures and provocative installations, these works, completed in the last decade of her life, from 2002 -2010, ( Bourgeois lived in Chelsea until her death last year at the age of 98, active in the art scene until the end, holding regular salons in her home, where artist, both the established and the unknown, could bring their work for her to discuss.) explore a more subdued side of her self-expression, while still exploring here life-long themes of domesticity, hierarchies, feminism, and matrimony.
In her last years, spending more time at home, she mined her closets for material, and used scraps of fabric, a section of a dress, or her husbands old handkerchief to produce these delicate yet bold creations.
The exhibit is extensive, with room after room of her work. The catalog for the show, revelas just how prolific she was well into her 90's, with countless interpretations of a theme.
"Sewing is my attempt tp keep things together and make things whole", she is quoted as having said.
As I viewed the exhibit with a long-time friend who works in fashion in Hong Kong, I studied each piece, noticing the style of stitch, the application of a button or the inclusion of a sewing needle, the hue of the thread, and how all the smaller details went together relating to the other pieces within the collection. Together, my friend and I discussed the triumphs and failures of fashion, the value in documentation, and the history that is preserved in the art we produce, the story we tell in the method which we chose to weave the fabric of our life.
Perhaps nothing announces more the person we claim to be than the clothing we choose to wear, the image we project through our second skin, which we don for protection from the elements and as a fashion statement. How appropriate is it then, the Bourgeois revisited these things in her last decade, reviewing the trends and traditions (she did grow up in Paris working in her family's tapestry restoration business, after all!) and translating them into her own personal finale. Something that once cloaked her body, in the end, became her body of work. Or as she herself stated, "Clothing is...an exercise in memory."
The Cheim & Read Gallery is located at 547 West 25th Street, near 10th Ave, in NYC.