Louise Bourgeois remembered in The Return of the Repressed at the Freud Museum

By Ruth Hazard | 09 March 2012
A picture of Louise Bourgeois making a sculpture in a brick workroom
© Studio Fotografico, Carrara / The Easton Foundation
Exhibition: Louise Bourgeois - The Return of the Repressed, Freud Museum, London, until May 27 2012

Sculptor and artist Louise Bourgeois may be one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, yet what remains generally unknown is that she underwent psychoanalytic treatment for almost three decades.

When her long-term assistant Jerry Gorovoy discovered a box of more than 1,000 recordings of her reactions to psychoanalysis in 2004, he unearthed what was to be the basis for the current exhibition showing at The Freud.
Also featured in the display are some of the iconic sculptures and paintings created by the artist, given a new context in view of her diary accounts.

"The discovery has enriched and augmented our understanding of Bourgeois’ work and life immeasurably," says curator Philip Larratt-Smith, discussing the collection of nearly 50 manuscripts on show.

Bourgeois died in May 2010 but had discussed the final home as Sigmund Freud as an appropriate venue for the show, as it ties in with the themes she hoped to address - namely her complex engagement with the theory and practice of psychoanalysis.

In some cases the sketches, notes, dream recordings, lists and drawings compliment her existing diaries, while in others they serve to fill the gaps for the years she did not keep one.

Her significant Janus Fleuri, from 1968, will be united with later pieces such as The Dangerous Obsession from 2003 and I am Afraid, made the year before her death.

By displaying her work alongside her accounts of her treatment, the exhibition raises fundamental questions about the relationship between art and life, as well as therapeutic nature of art itself.

  • Open 12pm-5pm Thursday and Friday, 11am-5pm weekends, 12pm-8pm Wednesday, closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission £3-£6 (free for under-12s).

More pictures:

a picture of a sculpture of three heads suspended in a wire cage
CELL XXIV 2001 Louise Bourgeois Trust. Photo: Christopher Burke

a picture of a woman knelt holding a red ball under a glass on a table
The Dangerous Obsession, Louise Bourgeois 2003 Louise Bourgeois Trust. Photo: Christopher Burke
A picture of a pencil written note on squared paper with drawings in the text
© Louise Bourgeois Archive, New York, © The Easton Foundation.

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