Life With Louise Bourgeois

17-lb.w529.h352Katy Diamond Hamer at New York Magazine:

I was totally startled by her ferocity and suggested we have some tea at the Kitchen down the street, as a way of calming her down and persuading her to let the piece remain in the show. On the way back, she fell on the cobblestones and I helped her up. She was a tiny woman and at that point already 70 years old, and I realized how vulnerable she was. The experience gave me my first insight into her high anxiety, and the fact that exhibiting her work made her frightened. I would later learn that Louise was one of those people who, when upset, attacks. It’s her projecting of her anxiety outward and is the same anxiety that she transfers into the materials of her sculpture. Eventually she let the piece stay in the show. We sold it to the National Gallery of Australia. After the exhibition, she invited me to her home in Chelsea and showed me some more of her work. She was somewhat secretive, and I felt is if she didn’t want me to see too much in one go. She was literally pulling drawings out from under her bed, some of which hadn’t been seen since the 1940s, when they were made. The basement was full of 40 years' worth of work. After the group show, I organized a solo show of her drawings and early paintings. It was just at that time in the art world where artistic concerns were changing, moving away from formalism and abstraction, towards figuration and narrative stories about identity and sexuality. Louise had been mining these themes for a long time.

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