Brentwood Road Gallery is excited to welcome a Hayward Touring print exhibition featuring two collections of works by one of the most influential artists of recent decades, Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Best known for her powerful emotionally charged sculptures - enclosed ‘cell’ or cage-like installations and fabric figures - she was also a prolific printmaker and draughtswoman. Most of the French-American artist’s work dealt with strongly autobiographical themes, invoking her childhood emotions of loneliness, desire, anxiety and jealousy.
Autobiographical Series (1994) consists of 14 etchings illustrating some of her deepest thoughts and memories whilst the 11 Drypoints (all from 1999) brings her obsessions into more vivid focus. Recurrent themes, such as a woman giving birth, a cat, ladders, long hair, feet, clocks, scissors, bathtubs and a pregnant mosquito all contain references to her emotional biography. An apt example of this is the memory of her mother sewing – her family ran a workshop restoring tapestries in Paris – evoked in ‘Sewing’, in the Autobiographical Series.
Louise Bourgeois began making prints in the 1930s and briefly ran a print shop in Paris before she emigrated to New York in 1938. She lived in Manhattan for the rest of her life. There she worked at S.W. Hayter’s print workshop and later bought a press so that she could work from home while raising her three children. Following her husband’s death in 1973, she taught printmaking at the School of Visual Arts.
Printmaking gave Bourgeois the ability to make changes over the course of an edition, experimenting with layers of transparency and the possibilities of retaining elements of her original drawings whilst amending others - something that she felt was not available to her in painting or sculpture. She said of printmaking that ‘the whole history of the creative process is there’. After many years of focusing primarily on sculpture, Bourgeois turned back to printmaking in the 1980s and continued to produce prints until her death in 2010. The two collections of works in this exhibition were made when she was in her eighties, after installing a small press in her own home.
Since she was honoured with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1982, Louise Bourgeois has been widely acclaimed as one of the most original artists of the late twentieth century and has exhibited at museums throughout the world, including at Tate Modern in 2007.