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Louise Bourgeois

2 June 2010 by Laura

Visitor in gallery

Ears by Louise Bourgeois

The news that the French artist Louise Bourgeois died at the weekend from a heart attack represents the loss of a uniquely inventive artist.

It was during my first visit to Tate Modern, when it opened in 2000 that I was introduced to her incredible work. Produced as a special commission for the opening of the gallery, I joined the queues to experience for myself the imposing steel towers, I Do, I Undo and I Redo.

Bourgeois was in her late 80s when she produced this work, but the epic scale of them would have been impressive for an artist of any age. At the centre of these great monoliths was a simple but intimate idea; the relationship between mother and child. The work represented the complex love, attachment and frustrations of this most basic but vital human relationship.

The thought that this work explores ideals projected onto motherhood is something that resonates ever more with me. The importance of explaining the world to my daughter often conflicts with an urge to wrap her in a protective bubble and prevent her from dealing with pain or disappointment.

Bourgeois’ work often dealt with sexuality and gender issues, making her an important inclusion in the final section of The Rise of Women Artists at Walker Art Gallery.

On display is Ears, pictured above. Made in 2005 with cloth from her wedding trousseau (she married in 1938), it now forms a poignant connection between the early and later stages of her long career. The use of this cloth gives the work a fragile physical beauty and sculptural quality.

For me this delicate and beautiful thing is one of the Walker Art Gallery’s most treasured items.

To see more of Bourgeois’ work the Guardian’s art critic, Jonathon Jones, has put together a selection of some of her most significant pieces here.

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