Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/ Big Bang Art Peep Show



It's the last day of the BIG BANG ART/PEEP SHOW and the featured artist is Louise Bourgeois.  I was fortunate to view her works at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in an exhibition entitled "The Locus of Memory,"  and later saw beautiful little prints of her 'Spider' series hung at the now shuttered Manfred Baumgartner Gallery on 7th Street NW.  For artists, art-lovers, cronies and poseurs, Baumgartner Gallery was the peak of both art-exhibition and art-chic--at least as we then knew it to be.  Manfred maintained a pristine all-white gallery perfect for the display of 'serious' art;  he showed an enviable list of local (regional to be more precise), national and international artists whose works were always featured on the pages of the expensive art magazines; in solo shows and group exhibitions held in New York, London, and cities in Germany, Italy and France; as well as featured in the design monthlies when articles ran about wealthy art collectors and their fantastic homes and art.  Manfred allowed me to drop in (others were not so lucky and were denied entry) and so I was able to view legendary works previously unseen in this city; artists such as Richard Artschwager, Ross Bleckner, Saint Clair Cemin, Malcom Morley, David Seidner, and Andres Serrano among others.

I digress temporarily, you see, probably because I am both fascinated and repulsed by spiders, a subject much explored by Bourgeois.  Spiders have lots of legs covered with tiny hairs which fill me with revulsion for reasons yet not understood. Yet, I am fascinated because they can be extremely resilient under the most extreme living conditions; they produce silk thread cleverly spun into a web used to catch living prey; additionally they eat their young, and quite frequently in many species, males are consumed shortly after sex--behavior I find puzzling, yet understandable in the game of survival of the fittest (or-the-fastest-one-up-off-the-nuptial-bed-and-out-of-the-door-and-down-the-web-lives-yet-another-day). I believe that we can all agree that spiders are mysterious and so is ART; and undeniably the art of Louise Bourgeois displays this characteristic, as well as expresses anxiety, sexuality, sensuality, betrayal, and loneliness.  State(s) of being of which we are all familiar.

Upon acquisition of Maman, a press release from the Tate Gallery reads:

In the late 1990s, Bourgeois began using the spider as a central image in her art. Maman, which stands more than nine metres high, is a steel and marble sculpture from which an edition of six bronzes were subsequently cast. It first made an appearance as part of Bourgeois’ commission for The Unilever Series forTate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2000. It is the largest Spider sculpture ever made by Bourgeois.
The sculpture alludes to the strength of her mother, with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.
The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.
– Louise Bourgeois


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