Louise Bourgeois’ is one of the most important and provocative artists of all time. She is a second-generation surrealist, Bourgeois’ is best known for her large-scale sculptures and installation art. She was also a profuse painter and printmaker.
Bourgeois work can be viewed from several perspectives. A feminist perspective, from a psychobiographical analysis perspective or via the emergence of post-minimalist or “eccentric” abstraction of the 1970s. However the formal qualities of her work immediately point toward freudian psychoanalytic interpretations, as much of Bourgeois artistic drive was fueled by her traumatic childhood traumas especially those instigated by her father’s tyrannical disposition and his marital infidelities.
Many of Bourgeois sculptural works of the body are androgynous in form.and are overt sexual depictions of the body. They are often sensual and repulsive at the same time.
One of her most provocative works was Fillette (1968), which unsettlingly translates as ‘Young Girl’, this enormous, detached latex phallus is very suggestive and provocative. The tactile biomorphic form is very ambiguous in its visual representation too, while it most obviously appears to represent a phallus, its name diminishes its penile prowess. gender ambiguity in the work. The work can also be viewed as a female torso as the title suggests.Robert Mapplethorpe photographed Bourgeois with a mischievous smile holding Fillette (1968) under her right arm. Stating she took “a piece of mine” to the photo shoot as “a precaution against a catastrophe.
” Knowing what Mapplethorpe usually photographed she “counted on” what she brought with her, to get her through the photoshoot as she disliked being photographed. Mapplethorpe asked her: “Why did you choose a large phallus?” Bourgeois replied: “It is not a phallus.”16 To Bourgeois it was phallus, and it was not a phallus. Mapplethorpe’s publicly released the contact sheets from the photoshoot depicting Bourgeois cradling Fillette in her arms like a baby, suddenly the balls become its legs, and the head resembles a baby’s bonnet.
17 Hence the ugly phallus then becomes something that needs reassurance and protection. Bourgeois demonstrating the vulnerability of men’s bodies in line with the vulnerability that women’s bodies so commonly represent, Fillette is both the love she feels for the beloved bodies of her 3 sons and husband, and the monstrous appendage women (according to Freud) apparently lack.18 At the same time, in an additional twist, the petite fille is Bourgeois herself, “a little Louise” in her own words.19 In complete contrat all of this countered by her choice of display, with a meat hook hanging from the ceiling in a hallway, symbolic of castration, to the point of part-objects to detach, morphing and interchangeable, into each other in an endless exchange.20 (Freud’s “penis-baby-feces,” or Melanie Klein’s “-breast.”).21 The penis-baby Fillette resists any settled definition, of male or female, dominant or vulnerable, husband or child.