a passion for hoarding, scavenging, collecting and mending


For once a major blockbuster exhibition at the Tate justifies its size: the imaginative world of Louise Bourgeois is so potent and all-encompassing that a show of more than 200 works, from small experimental objects to large installations, seems not a fraction too extensive. Bourgeois, born in Paris in 1911, is famous — in this age of confession and determinedly autobiographical art — for her troubled childhood. Whereas most artists of this type foist their traumas on us raw, Bourgeois cooks hers to a turn. What is more, she has the imagination and creative vision to translate and transform her source material, transcending its personal impetus and making it universal. As we know from the plethora of bloody breast-beating that passes for art among so many of today’s younger artists, the ability to transform experience is rare. In Bourgeois we have an adept of the art, with a restless and eclectic imagination, and capacity for a fertile invention. This display, spanning seven decades, represents a towering achievement.

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