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Obituary Sigmar Polke
Art in Private!
Alberto Tadiello’s project for Art Basel
Obituary Louise Bourgeois
Penelope Umbrico new Deutsche Bank NYFA Fellow
Julie Mehretu at the Guggenheim Museum in New York
Deutsche Bank Foundation sponsors talk series at the MMK
Olafur Eliasson in Berlin
Deutsche Bank Art Bus in Singapore Received Award

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On the Death of Louise Bourgeois


She was not always too particular about the truth, curator and art critic Stuart Morgan once remarked: "She tells lies, in the nicest possible way." In this sense, we can imagine Louise Bourgeois herself as a spider who continually rewove the threads of her life in her work and captured in her imaginary nets the demons that had pursued her since her youth. Now Louise Bourgeois has died after suffering a heart attack, aged 98. The work of the artist repeatedly circled around aspects of her family history: her childhood at her parents' tapestry restoration business; her mother, who was a women's libber yet permitted her husband's mistress to live with the family as a private tutor for ten years; the traumatic "betrayal" of her father, who left the family for the sake of his English lover; Bourgeois' marriage to the renowned American art historian Robert Goldwater, with whom she moved to New York in 1938; and the adoption of her son Michel and the two sons she bore herself. It was during this period that the artist executed her first Personages sculptures - mysterious, totemistic steles made of wood and plaster reminiscent of fragile towers or ancestral figures - on the roof of her apartment building, which afforded a view of Manhattan's skyscrapers.

These sculptures influenced by "primitive" African art, her enigmatic drawings, and her early paintings of ghostly woman imprisoned in houses already convey a sense of loneliness and loss. And there is an urgency in Bourgeois' work which made artists such as Tracey Emin and Kiki Smith become fans of hers decades later. Her art, Bourgeois once said, revolves around things "that went wrong." And long before the sixties generation declared the private to be political, the artist explored herself and her dysfunctional family and dissected the female psyche and sexuality with breathtaking bluntness. But it took a long time before she achieved her breakthrough. After initial successes, she was ignored by the male-dominated art industry of the fifties, forcing her to take a break from art. She withdrew into her own ambivalent world, and memories surfaced: of her parents, the children, the clothing - mutated into Freudian nightmares and art fetishes. In addition to the latex erect phallus with the large testicles, which Bourgeois christened Filette (little girl) and cheerfully clasped under her arm in Robert Mapplethorpe's legendary photograph, she executed other works that have become engraved in the memory of contemporary art: the claustrophobic Cells which she provded clothing, mirrors, glass containers, wax figures and other found objects starting in the early nineties, creating mysterious emotional and burial chambers. Or Janus Fleuri, a faceless, two-headed bronze larva that looks like a cross between a penis and a clitoris. Bourgeois' series 10 am is when you come to me (2006) is included in the Deutsche Bank Collection, and in 2004 she gave one of her rare interviews for ArtMag.

Louise Bourgeois repeatedly rankled critics, who were annoyed by her compulsive introspection, by her obvious play with psychoanalytical interpretations and sexual symbolism. But it was precisely this obsessiveness that was the driving force behind the grande dame of contemporary art, who continued to hold her legendary salons and to assiduously produce her self-willed, ego-maniacal works. "It is not so much where my motivation comes from but rather how it manages to survive," she said a few years ago. And for all those who hoped she would stop talking, she embroidered a message on a handkerchief that was on view at her large retrospectives in recent years: "I have been to Hell and back," it reads, "and let me tell you, it was wonderful."




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Feature
Wangechi Mutus Installation at Deutsche Guggenheim / Between Beauty and Horror: Wangechi Mutu / Samuel Fossos Self-portraits / Multiple Identities: An Interview with Jürgen Klauke / Paulina Olowska: Find out what its all really about / Ivan Navarro’s Emotionally Charged Minimalism / Uwe Lausen: Murder in the Living Room / Between Emergence and Reflection: the Whitney Biennial 2010
On View
Wangechi Mutu at Deutsche Guggenheim / Then & Now: Abstract Art from Latin America at 60 Wall Gallery / Beuys and Beyond in Buenos Aires: Deutsche Bank Collection in dialogue with contemporary Argentinean art / Anniversary in Luxembourg: Deutsche Bank Collection Shows International Contemporary Art
Press
Artist of the Year: The Press on the Awarding of Wangechi Mutu / The Press on the Whitney Biennial 2010 / The Press on Utopia Matters at the Deutsche Guggenheim
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