Louise Bourgeois and Anxiety

Q: You mentioned that Louise didnt care much about her own individual artworks once they were complete and looked forward to moving on to the next. Can you say something about that?

Jerry Gorovoy: Louise was exclusively interested in the piece that she was working on. She felt that once a piece was completed, it had served its purpose, and she wanted to move on. I think this is because she was more interested in expressing the intensity of the moment, the anxiety of that particular moment. In terms of her art, her anxiety determined its form. She said, “Pain is the ransom of formalism.” Before I met her, she had a tendency to destroy a work by cannibalizing it and reusing it in another. Her level of aggressivity would determine what kind of action she needed to perform physically with the material at hand, whether an object needed to be hard or soft or if she wanted to cut something up, or sew and bring things together. One day the work seemed to emanate from an inner violence, and the next day her work would be a reparation or an expression of her guilt. Her goal, certain days, was simply to survive. That’s the kind of anxiety level she functioned at.

–Assistant for 30 Years: Life With Louise Bourgeois

Throughout her life, the idea of exhibiting her work was very complicated for Bourgeois emotionally. She felt revealing her art work was a lot of times traumatic, too exposing, embarrassing, etc.

Also brilliant, Louise Bourgeois peels an orange: the clip reveals the complex love hate relationship she had with her father.