THE LOOP: Louise Bourgeois on the inside

David Salle, “Outing the inside,” The New York Review of Books, 7 December, 2017

Responding to a current MoMA exhibition of works by Louise Bourgeois, American visual artist David Salle, a superb arts writer, declares her evocation “of the female body as having an inside might be her greatest legacy”.

“One drawing — Hair (1948) — lays out the vocabulary that would remain in place for more than sixty years. Using a brush and ink, Bourgeois draws a female figure as two vertical columns of sacks topped by a featureless oval head, the whole figure enveloped in a cascade of hair that flows down both sides of the body, from the top of the head almost down to the feet. The roughly almond shape of the streaming-out mass of hair that frames the pod shapes, all seamed down the middle and topped off with a little button head, give the image another, labial reading. It’s like going inside Courbet’s The Origin of the World (1866) and coming back out again as a doppelgänger in disguise. The detail contains the whole, like an image out of Nabokov — the world reflected in a soap bubble.”

Top image credit: Louise Bourgeois. No. 5 of 14 from the installation set À l’Infini, courtesy of MOMA 

5 December 2017