Louise Bourgeois’ fabric drawings (by Olga Norris)

I have recently acquired a splendid large book: the catalogue of an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois fabric works.  I have written about this in my blog, but one aspect of the work interested me in particular – Bourgeois’ fabric drawings.

The images above are from a selection on the Hauser + Wirth site where the exhibition is on currently.  Another drawing can be seen here.  I am also intrigued by her collections of fabric drawings which she has made into books.  Here  and here give an idea of what their pages look like.

I find all of these pieces engaging and attractive on first view, and then despite their apparent simplicity – maybe because of their deceptive simplicity, I am intrigued to gaze on them longer.    I think that it’s a question of the compositions, the balance and choice of colours, the intensity of them which detain me.  And I certainly admire the quality of the craftsmanship.  That is not to say that I am in awe of Bourgeois’ craftsmanship, her wielding of a needle.  It is her idea that the craftsmanship is an important element which intrigues me.

Here is an artist drawing attention to craftmanship.  Of course  fibre craft is vital to the concept of so much of Bourgeois’ work in whatever medium given her tapestry mending origins.  But it struck me that Bourgeois validates so many of us who have the urge to express ourselves artistically, and who choose fibre craft as our medium.

As we see here in the fabric drawings, the effect can be powerful, arresting; work that is paired away and direct.  I find the oeuvre of Louise Bourgeois such a vital encouragement and endorsement of what I am trying to do, and these fabric drawings in particular reassure me that I should continue to try to simplify, to distil.

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6 Responses to “Louise Bourgeois’ fabric drawings (by Olga Norris)”


  1. 2 Anastasia E White October 29, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I would love to experience the book form of these. After viewing your post I was curious what the scale was & surprised to see that they are rather small and intimate. This link below has additional images that show the scale. http://joannemattera.blogspot.com/2010/07/motherlode-mind-and-matter-at-moma-part.html

    Thanks for sharing, I wasn’t familiar with this body of her work.

  2. 3 olganorris October 21, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Here is another link to an article about Bourgeois’ making of one of her fabric books: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C03E5DD1E3BF934A25753C1A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

  3. 4 olganorris October 21, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Margaret, it is interesting that it seems to be labels and attitudes which have to be ‘right’ in order for anything used in artistic expression to be accepted as ART.

    Bourgeois was assisted with her stitching by seamstress Mercedes Katz – she is mentioned in the catalogue, and also here: http://www.economist.com/node/17119573 and here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940CEED71431F936A15751C1A9679C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

    Clairan, yes, that creativity which ended in her only with her death, seems to live on in the life force of her work.

  4. 5 Clairan Ferrono October 20, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Bourgeois’ creativity was seemingly boundless, and this work is marvelous. Thanks Olga.

  5. 6 margaret October 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    That they are called ‘fabric drawings’ is interesting in itself – this label takes the domesticity of cloth into the processes of art.
    The works seem to have been made when she was in her 80s, with no lessening of craftsmanship.


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