Louise Bourgeois: ‘A prisoner of my memories’
Critic, painter and art historian Robert Storr reflects on the life and career of Louise Bourgeois, 'the artist everybody has heard about but nobody knows'. Her gigantic, disturbing spider sculptures count amongst the most iconic and popular art works of our era. These monumental structures, which now reside in numerous locations throughout the world, arose from Bourgeois' critical engagement with her own psychological pain, and serve to put viewers in touch with their deepest fears.
Storr explains how Bourgeois' unhappy childhood was the source of a lifetime of anguish, but also the spring bed for a remarkable intellectual journey and creative invention. Invisible for much of her career, but profoundly engaged with the world and artists around her, Bourgeois changed forever the way women artists are seen and opened up new, stimulating possibilities in contemporary art.
Robert Storr is a curator, critic, and painter. From 1990 until 2002 he worked at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he was curator and then senior curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture. His exhibitions there included, 'DISLOCATIONS', 'Modern Art Despite Modernism', and retrospectives of Robert Ryman, Tony Smith, Chuck Close, Gerhard Richter, Max Beckmann, and Elizabeth Murray. From 1990 to 2000 he directed MoMA's Projects program devoted to contemporary art, for which he organized small monographic shows by Art Spiegelman, Franz West, Tom Friedman, and others. In 2002 he was named the first Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. From 2006 to 2016 he served as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale University School of Art, where he continues to be a professor of painting. In 2007 he served as Artistic Director of the Venice Biennale, the first American to hold that position.
Since 1982, his essays, reviews, and columns have appeared in Art in America, Art Press, Frieze, Artforum, Parkett, Corriere della Sera, and other magazines and journals. He is the author of numerous catalogues and books -- most recently, of Intimate Geometries: The Life and Work of Louise Bourgeois (2016), for which he received the 2017 Filaf d'or Award, as well as the 2017 Filaf Award for Best Book on Contemporary Art. A frequent lecturer both in the United States and abroad, he has taught painting, drawing, art history, and criticism at numerous colleges, universities, and art schools. He is the recipient of prestigious awards for his criticism and curatorial work from organizations such as the International Association of Art Critics and the Archives of American Art. In 2016 he was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2000, he was subsequently promoted to Officier of the same order. Storr lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut.
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