Louise Bourgeoise: The Woven Child at Gropius Bau Berlin

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The newly opened exhibition Louise Bourgeoise: The Woven Child in Berlin’s Gropius Bau is entirely devoted to the textile works that the artist created during the last 20 years of her life.

But what may sound a little one-sided in terms of subject matter at first quickly turns out to be a very comprehensive and multifaceted retrospective: What Bourgeoise created in her last chapter of drawings, sculptures, installations and collages is the complete life’s work for other artists.

The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022, Foto: Luca Girardini

And as versatile as the artworks are, so are the themes that Louise Bourgeois processes in them. Love, security, pain, shame and humour; and quite frankly it is sexuality, femininity and maternal relationships that stand out in particular and with which the artist manages to give the textile works an extremely emotional charge.

As the daughter of tapestry restorers, the integration of clothing, linens and tapestry pieces could be seen as a renewed exploration of her childhood in her eighties. Her use of fabrics from her own household she collected during her life, including pieces she used as a child or belonged to her mother, gives the artworks a special vulnerability and intimacy.

Louise Bourgeois The Woven Child Installationsansicht

The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022, Foto: Luca Girardini

Louise Bourgeois The Woven Child Installationsansicht

The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022, Foto: Luca Girardini

„When I was growing up, all the women in my house were using needles. I’ve always had a fascination with the needle. The magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair the damage. It’s a claim to forgiveness. It is never aggressive, it’s not a pin.“
– Louise Bourgeois

The installation of her artworks in the exhibition gives each one enough space to work its effect. Some textile figures hang from the ceiling like floating ghosts, others are displayed in showcases, or as Louise Bourgeois called them „cells“. Besides the needle, clocks, the famous spider or heads are recurring motifs. Bourgeoise began her work on several stuffed textile heads in the late nineties, for which she used different textiles such as towels, cotton and embroidery to portray a variety of emotions and psychological states.

Louise Bourgeois The Woven Child Installationsansicht

The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022, Foto: Luca Girardini

The spider is for the artist, similar to the needle, a repairer and is thus again related to her family and motherhood. One of Bourgeois‘ huge towering spider sculptures is displayed centrally in the exhibition alongside almost 90 other works by the artist, some of which are now on show in Germany for the first time.

The exhibition is on show at Gropius Bau Berlin until October 23, 2022.

Words: Hannah Sulzbach

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