The residence of Sigmund Freud serves as a fitting space to showcase the work of sculptor Louise Bourgeois, whose exhibition The Return of the Repressed explores her thirty years of ambivalent attachment to psychoanalysis.
As an artist who drew on her childhood experiences, French-American Bourgeois was primed to blossom in the Fifties, but her path was impeded by the precipitous domination of abstract expressionism, spearheaded by the ‘macho’ art of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Subsequently, only four commissions for one-woman shows between 1953 and 1978 followed.
Her surrealist artistry with its lack of signature style and use of materials including meat, wood and latex rubber, was completely divergent to the idealism of classical sculpture.
She remained on the periphery because the art world found her profound technique and emotionally fragile inner world difficult to negotiate and comprehend.
Nonetheless, in 1982, at the age of 70, Louise Bourgeois, the artist who utilised her visceral pain to awaken a higher state of consciousness in the viewer, was given a retrospective by the Museum of Modern Art in New York; thereby embracing this gloriously fearless late bloomer with mainstream acclaim which had eluded her for so long.
Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed is at the Freud Museum until 27th May 2012
Words by Dawn Daniels
Top Image copyright Irving Penn