1:21 - Curator Philip Larratt-Smith discusses an exhibit he has curated at the Jewish Museum titled “Louise Bourgeois: Freud’s Daughter” which pairs Louise Bourgeois’s artwork with personal writings from her time in psychoanalysis. Larratt-Smith had served as Bourgeois’s literary archivist during her life and now serves as curator at the Easton Foundation which works to preserve Bourgeois’ creative legacy.
38:22 - Artist Christiane Pooley discusses her work. The Chilean-native creates paintings that explore the elusive concept of home, especially when more than one culture claims the same space as their own.
56:02 - The week’s top art headlines
Craig: [00:00:10] This is Art Sense podcast, focus on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. First up this week is my conversation with Phillip Lloret Smith, who has curated an exhibit at the Jewish Museum titled Louise Bourgeois Freud's Daughter, which pairs Louise Bourgeois artwork with personal writings from her time and psychoanalysis. Larry Smith had served as bourgeois literary archivist during her life and now serves as curator at the Easton Foundation, which works to preserve bourgeois creative legacy in segment two. I speak to artist Christiane Pooley about her work. The Chilean native creates paintings that explore the elusive concept of home, especially when more than one culture claims the same space as their own. And at the end of the episode, I'll be wrapping things up with some of the week's top art headlines. But first up, inside the mind of Louise Bourgeois. Craig: [00:01:14] Philip Larratt-Smith, thank you for joining me today on the podcast to talk about an exhibit that you've curated called Louise Bourgeois, Freud's daughter can kind of give us an overview of of the exhibit and where your work on on this exhibit started.Show More >
Philip: [00:01:32] Sure. Well, the heart of the exhibition consists of about 82 writings that Louise made when she was in psychoanalysis in the 1950s and 60s. These were discovered towards the end of her very long life two phases in 2004 and 2010. And Louise was she was aware that they were going to be published eventually. And that's actually the next project that I'm working on after this and working on the publication of a kind of comprehensive selection of the psychoanalytic writings with my annotations. But the show at the Jewish Museum is really built around Louise's dialog with Freudian psychoanalysis. So the you know, Louise had already been reading widely in the psychoanalytic literature in the late 1940s. She was then living in New York City with her husband and three young sons experiencing a lot of psychic turmoil. And it was when her father died in 1951 that she was plunged into a deep depression and decided to seek help. So she consulted first with the kind of doctor Leonard Kammer, who was a psychiatric psychiatrist specializing in depression before, I think being referred to Dr. Henry Lowenthal in 1952. She saw him, according to the what was then the standard Freudian Formula four to five sessions a week of about an hour each, and she would continue to see lo and infeld intensely up until 1967. And it was. It was. It was a lifelong engagement. In other words, if she would continue to see lo and felt later in life up until his death in 1985. But more on a in an on again off again fashion. So the encounter between this one of the major sculptors of the 20th century with with psychoanalysis in such a thoroughgoing way is is part of the story that that the show sets out to tell. Craig: [00:03:23] I guess a lot of what she was trying to work through with a psychoanalysis stemmed from her childhood and these familial relationships the relationship between a daughter and a father, a father and a mother daughter and a mother. And I guess a lot of that was complicated in her childhood by this infidelity that her father had with her governess. Mm-hmm. And so can you kind of speak to some of the origins of the trauma that she was trying to work through in psychoanalysis? Philip: [00:04:00] Well, Louise had a very powerful fear of abandonment from from an early age. Her father was born in 1911, when her father went to the to the front during the First World War. Her mother became ill. Louise was hysterical and started following her father around from camp to camp, especially after he was wounded and later on, later on. In the 1920s, Louise's mother herself suffered from ill health. Louise used to go with her to the south of France and act as her nurse, in a sense, became kind of the mother to her own mother. And this was a role that produced great psychic conflict in Louise because at the same time that she was with her mother in the south of France, Louise Louise's father was in Paris, supporting himself with various mistresses, including the aforementioned governess. You know, her mother died in 1932, when Louise was still a young woman. That was traumatic for her, and I think the repetition of that trauma, the reactivation of the trauma of abandonment happened again in 1951, with the death of her father and the final separation from, you know, a, you know, someone who is really, I think, a kind of love object for Louise and Louise had an unconscious Oedipal fixation on her father for much of her life. And you know, she was she really came to psychoanalysis because of the problems she was having with the present. Philip: [00:05:13] She was, you know, she was married to Robert Goldwater, who was brilliant art historian. The marriage was problematic on many levels. She was struggling to be a good mother to her three sons and also trying to have a career for herself as an artist in her own right in New York City. And the way that the past was playing itself out in the present was what led her eventually back to the past. So in a way it was. It was true that she, you know, the early child, the constellation of the early family was was traumatic for her. But it was the way that it manifested itself in the present that you know, that that led her to psychoanalysis. And I say that because I think there's often this stereotype of myth really about Louise that she was obsessed with her past, which of course, on one level is partly true. But Louise lived very much in the present, and it was because of present problems that she decided to go into psychoanalysis. The other thing is that the writings really show how much more complex the story of her family relations really were. The again, this the story of. The governess that her father was having an affair with has kind of become, how can I say it like at all monarch causal explanation for the work, and I think Louise herself encouraged that in 1982, when she had the had her retrospective at MoMA. Philip: [00:06:28] She made a slideshow called Partial Recall that she then adapted to a photo essay in Art Form magazine that was called Child Abuse, which she first told the story of Sadie the Father's Geithner the governess and talked about the betrayal not just by the father who was having the affair, but by the mother who acquiesced in it. And this kind of set the coordinates for the reception of Louise's work. I would say, you know, to this day. And Louise, of course, was a great storyteller. You see that in the work. She's using the work to tell the story, to tell and retell the story of her life. And, you know, I think that it's more a question that there were things that were left out of that version, that the psychoanalytic writings really make plain that she, you know, the father, you know, there was a lot of anger and negativity towards the father, but she was also, you know, there was a passionate idealization of him as well. And conversely, with the mother, there were, you know, murderous feelings of murderous rivalry with her. And again, these are all things that you know, that are found throughout the writings. And I think her psychoanalysis made her made her aware of on a conscious level. Craig: [00:07:26] I've seen where it's apparent in her writings that she is not only benefiting from psychoanalysis, but she's also contributing to the dialog. Can you talk a little bit about her contribution to the dialog around psychoanalysis? Philip: [00:07:43] I think that Louise made a contribution in the areas of obviously her commentary on female sexuality is valuable. She felt that Freud often was wrong in his perceptions of women or the way he theorized about female sexuality. She definitely strongly believed that he did not understand the nature of creativity and the nature of the artist, though at the same time she used his term sublimation to describe a lot of what she was able to achieve at the best of times through her own art making. It was a relationship that I think was, I think Freud became a kind of father figure, and that was the inspiration for the title of the show. Louise internalized Freud, who she never met as a kind of father figure, and that he became overlaid with all of the, you know, the unconscious and conscious reactions of Louise to her own father. You know, so there's a feeling of, you know, that she's contending with him. There are things that he gets wrong. There's an element of mockery. But at the same time, he was the one who was his system of thought that she turned to to save her. And I think that there's a, you know, in a way, Louise is Louise's writings could almost be taken as as as as a case history of a of a self-analysis. Freud himself did a self-analysis in 1989 in which he diagnosed himself as mildly hysterical, and it wasn't uncommon for the early analyst to do that. And I think Louise Louise's writings and indeed a whole body of work has that quality to that. She's almost presenting this kind of case history of herself, of her own psychic formation. And again, I think, you know, Louise was intellectually quite brilliant. Her mother made sure that she got an excellent education in the 1910s and 1920s and her range of reference or knowledge of psychoanalysis, I think, you know, allowed Louise to make a contribution to Psych going out to the field on many levels. Craig: [00:09:31] Maybe we could talk about some of the pieces that you you curated for the show to kind of go alongside these literary passages from her diaries and in her writings. You know, I believe the show opens up with this one piece conscious and unconscious. Can you tell us how that is the best starting point for this dialog? Philip: [00:09:53] You know, the the discovery of the unconscious by Freud is really the foundation of psychoanalysis in general to see how the, you know, the this revelation that you know, the vast majority of our psychic lives is is sealed off from us that we only have access to it through, you know, indirectly through dreams, through bodily symptoms, through, you know, things that we can learn to, to analyze. But you know, essentially a kind of, you know, it's the proverbial iceberg beneath the tip that's visible. And this, I think, for Louise was also the nature. I mean, Louise felt that through her work, she was making her unconscious conscious. So this is where, in a way, her time in psychoanalysis paralleled what she was doing in her art. You know, Louise felt that when she made a sculptor, she was really she didn't know where she was going. She would start with the form. She would start with an idea, and she called it a journey without a destination. So it didn't unfold according to some preconceived plan. And a lot of the titles of Louise would give to her works actually came much later in the process, or even at the end when Louise realized or understood what it was that she was trying to express. So we start with conscious and unconscious because the dynamic interplay between these two entities is the, you know, is the story of psychoanalysis. Philip: [00:11:06] And it's also what we see in Louise's work and the, you know, the work to which you refer is large format. Between peace that she made in the last one of four that she made in the last four years, the last five years of her life and it consists of two elements that are unified on a central base. One of them stands for the unconscious and one for the conscious and conscious mind. And you know, I think Louise, she spoke often of her volcanic, unconscious and something that she felt she didn't totally have control over, obviously. But it was something that, you know, she felt that the artist in a way was gifted with unusually high, you know, direct access to the unconscious. And that this was sort of, you know, this was in a way that, you know, the curse of the artist was that they were sort of trapped into a form of behavior where they did not know why they were doing what they were doing, their excesses, their drinking, their womanizing, their acting out in the present, all the manias and phobias of these centric personalities. But at the same time that this was this was a kind of, if not a cure than a palliative, being able to make art was a way to, you know, was a road to self-knowledge. You know, the often tormented figure of the artist. Craig: [00:12:14] Another piece that I think is early in the exhibit is this piece couple three. These two figures in a lover's embrace. You can't tell if they are together by by choice or force. It kind of feels like there's a theme of codependency there, you know, can you kind of speak to to that piece? Philip: [00:12:34] Definitely. Well, it's a it's an image of a couple, but it's not necessarily a happy picture. I think you're picking up on something that is, you know, integral to the work that it's, you know, there's a sense in which being Louise idealize the couple as a state of togetherness, a fusion of perfect satisfaction. But of course, reality often fell short. And then there's also a dark side that when you make yourself vulnerable to another person, you could become hurt. You can, you can be rejected, you can be abandoned. And so there's there's you know, there's there's no positive thing without a negative thing in Louise's work. The two things are often commingled in an interesting way. And I think the the prosthetic one of the, you know, the female figure has a prosthetic arm she's using to cling to the male and there's an element of sadism in that as well. But it's not just benign. Holding on to him, it's as if she's trapped some prey. And so I think Louis saw that in a way as a metaphor for the nature of seduction that it involves a degree of manipulation as well. Craig: [00:13:31] The exhibit also includes four personage which are these shall we call them totems that were originally crafted in wood but being cast? I believe she started making them in the 40s. They sort of serve as proxies for people in her life. Can you tell us something about the symbolism there and maybe symbolism in general? Because I believe that's one of the things that she was really tapping into in psychoanalysis is this concept of things being symbolic for other things. Philip: [00:14:00] That's it. That's right. I think that Louise is often described as a surrealist, partly because she knew all the major surrealists she wrote, and partly because she's French and came up, you know, came of age during that period and also because there are glancing affinities between certain works and what the Surrealists were doing. But Louise rejected that term for her work because she felt that it was more the Surrealists were more literary, particularly in their depictions of psychoanalysis. It was much more of a literary rendering or a narrative rendering of of the unconscious. Whereas Louise felt that her own work was coming from, you know, was coming from a more deep and structural relationship to the unconscious. But I would say that in terms of symbolism, Louise Louise did believe in the symbol, and she believed that in a way that, you know, things often have the form of appearance of their opposite. So, you know, hanging phallic form can actually be a little girl or, you know, things do not always read in such in a one to one way, they often incorporate their own oppositions and contradictions. And I think the, you know, the nature of symbol making simple formation and Louise's work often has a dreamlike quality and partakes of the, you know, the psychic mechanisms of condensation and displacement, which Freud said was characteristic of dreams. Philip: [00:15:13] So, you know, things are conjoined in a hybrid way or they feel almost like portmanteau structures or, unlike things, are yoked together in an uneasy coexistence. And you know, there's often a sense in which one, you know, things stand for other things as a way of better being able to talk about it. And that indicates, in turn your own mental relation to it. Instead of having the thing itself. What the way that you symbolize it tells you something fundamental about your relation that may be a literal representation of it wouldn't do so. The personalities were, as you said, they were intended as proxies. Louise carved them out of balsa wood and later cast them in bronze. As she went, she could afford to do so later, later in life, and they were originally bolted directly into the floor. They were often precarious and top heavy, and so she bolted them into the floor to make them stable that they wouldn't fall over. Louise herself often wrote about her own fear of falling, which was connected to a number of a number of things. So there were some. Representations of her, not just of other people, but of her relationship to those people. So again, there's always this sort of dialogic quality to Louise's work, or maybe interpersonal as the better word, because it's very much it's, you know, her favorite, you know, geometric form was the Oval because it had two centers. Philip: [00:16:28] And we really believe that the dynamic with the person was the truth of the relationship, not what one person thought or the other person thought. And so in a way, she immediately started from this perspective of working with space in a way that use space to kind of externalize that dynamic. And so, so the personalities were symbolic substitutes for people that she'd left behind in France, but they were also symbolic representations of a salient quality about them. So the observer that has, you know, a single kind of propeller like laid on top of its head is in a state of balance because he's simply observing or, you know, to take one of the works that's in the show, the dagger, which is a representation of the child who reacts with violence against the parents. And, you know, I think this is, you know, it's Louise began with his body of work before she went into psychoanalysis. So I wanted to include them to show in a sense where she was coming from before she had this quasi breakdown. And, you know, through psychoanalysis through, you know, is the writing show she would gain insight into why she was making these forms. Sure. Craig: [00:17:31] I've heard some discussion about how those personage were inspired by her working space. I guess she was working on a rooftop in New York surrounded by these skyscrapers, and I believe there's some thought that she saw these skyscrapers as almost a depressed landscape that if these were figures there coexisting, but they're they're not touching, they're not interrelated. You know, something that gets in the same time period, we would see a painter like Edward Hopper dealing with these figures coexisting in the same space, but are alone together, which seems to be a theme that keeps coming up on conversations with artists in my podcast that we're we're sort of alone together. Philip: [00:18:13] Louise Love When she moved to New York, she loved the New York sky and she loved skyscrapers. And I think it's, you know, whenever you know, if you look at these sculptures and you look at the skyscrapers, there's an obvious sort of connection to like the fact that they were, you know, they ran up so high and they were clustered together, but they do not touch. So, as you said, alone and together. And you know, I think the, you know, the early body of work is about the relationship between the human body and architectural form. She had an interest in architecture throughout her life. And she, you know, but again, this fear of abandonment, you know, of isolation, know the inability or the refusal to communicate. This is very much what she was exploring in that body of work. And I think also that in a strange way, you know, Louise's work has is I mean, she herself was sort of she ran a parallel to the art world. She often shows these glancing relationships with the dominant movement of the time. So when she was making this sculpture, it shows there is an affinity to some extent with Abstract Expressionism. But she's she's never really been A. She was never an Abstract Expressionist, and later, you know, her work would often partake of, you know, characteristics of Poe's minimalism, her use of soft sculpture. In fact, she was really a pioneer in the use of it. And, you know, later on, feminist art with with body art, with installation art, Louise was sort of ahead, you know, often ahead of other artists who started exploring these things. But she was never really she was, you know, as I used to say, she wasn't a joiner, so she didn't belong to any club, and it's very hard to reduce to to one movement. Craig: [00:19:42] But I think some people, when they think of Louise, they think of some of her later work, like the spider sculpture that was commissioned for for the Tate. But I seem to like, always kind of gravitate back to these these cells and you have included the Passage Dangereux. And it's a very compelling work because it's it's large and there's all this layered symbolism, and it seems to have a lot more narrative than some of her other work. Can you talk a little bit about that piece? Philip: [00:20:16] Passage Dangereux is the largest cell installation that Louise ever made. He began making them in the early 1990s. You know, these are architectural installations that originally the viewer was meant to be able to enter and walk through, and they were made out of a combination of objects Louise had made and also objects that Louise had found or found objects. And this was a shift for Louise because up until the 1990s, she worked predominantly. I mean, she predominantly made her sculpture at the beginning. To use the found object is significant because it's as if Louise needed something that had a heightened sense of reality so she could use the perfume that she wore throughout her life, Shalamar. She would use objects that she'd kept over the course of her life. Louise was a pack rat, so she had a lot of things from her early childhood that she took with her when she left France and the the way in which she orchestrates these installations is really to kind of recreate. I think, you know, the. Originally, scene of the trauma and passage room in particular, is unusual among the cells because the cells in general deal with the themes of memory desire. The Five Senses passage closure is really the only one that consists of multiple bays. Philip: [00:21:26] So it really has that narrative element that you mentioned. And I think it unfolds almost to me, like a dream sequence. Whenever I see it, I think it's again this mechanisms of condensation and displacement, the way that she's tied different things together, you get a fragment of this and a relation to that. And so you're catching glimpses of something seen almost in a flashback. And I think the you know, the story that it tells in my interpretation is really the the edible deadlock that that was a central traumatic kernel of Louise's life. Louise was never able to liberate herself from the fixation, the unconscious fixation on her father, and this would play havoc in her relationships with men throughout her life. It was also possibly part of the, you know, at least a component part of her creativity that informed your entire, I think, your entire world view. You know, the insistence on the couple is a kind of fundamental structure of the world. I think that she, you know, in a way, you know, and it was it was through it was through psychoanalysis that she really came to recognize, you know, the lingering hope that this fixation had on her. Philip: [00:22:29] And you know, she wrote in a very late writing, Never let me be free from this burden that will never let me be free. So there's a kind of circularity to it, and it's as if it's a closed circuit that she can't fully get out of. And I think a lot of the cells have that feeling, too. I mean, for all that, they're open to different perspectives and they actually allow the viewer to have the pleasure of the voyeur or looking at something that's almost like a private scene, you know, like almost almost a little. I sometimes think of Duchamp's Étant Donné, you know, with this feeling of glimpsing something or kind of like some sort of perversion or some sort of something that normally isn't presented to to the view of others. But at the same time, I think it's Louise had this, you know, had really created this kind of closed symbolic world in which she was able to reenact these these traumatic memories from the past and partly in order to try to, you know, to exorcize them. But at the same time to it was a way of holding onto them, too. Craig: [00:23:22] Sure. You know, I believe I read that it was originally conceived that to experience the work, you could pass through the cell. Philip: [00:23:29] That's right. Craig: [00:23:30] But ultimately it was chosen that it would be viewed from the outside. And conceptually, I think what would it be like passing through in experiencing that inside the cell versus viewing it from the outside? And I guess part of that kind of goes back to this whole nature of psychoanalysis looking at your world from a first point perspective versus from the outside looking in. Philip: [00:23:53] I think the one thing I would say about that is that the truth of the analytic situation emerges from the dialog between two people. So even if even if the analysis is doing all the talking and the analyst is only occasionally interjecting it still the dynamic that sets itself up between those two, that creates the truth of that encounter. And so in a strange way, I think that that's also the case with the cell. So even though it's impossible really for conservation reasons to let people walk through the cells at this point, you know, part of it was this idea of seeing some seeing a situation both from within and from without. And you know, in general, I would say what their art Louise is attempting to, you know, she wants to experience the trauma in order to abolish it. And beyond the pleasure principle, Freud talked about the fact that so many shell shock victims were having this sort of return, you know, mental return to the most anguished moment of their life, to the origin of the trauma. And he didn't understand what it was exactly that they were attempting to do until he realized that it was, you know, it was it was attempting to relive the trauma in order to release themselves from it. You know, this was largely unsuccessful attempt to to liberate themselves from the traumatic event that had made them who they were. Philip: [00:24:58] And this is this is, I think, also true of Louise in a way that she, you know, she said art is a form of psychoanalysis and indeed psychoanalysis and art become overlaid in Louise's work and at times seem almost indistinguishable from each other. But Louise never said that it was a cure. There was no cure, and I think psychoanalysis also does not purport to be a cure. It can do many things. It can alleviate your suffering. You can give you insight into why you're doing the things that you're doing. And, you know, possibly you can use that information to live in a different way. But it's, you know, it's it's not it's not some sort of quackery where you go to the psychoanalyst three times and then your back feels better. It was always something. It's much more. It's much more labor intensive. And it's I think for Louise, there was there was a kind of analogy in a strange way with between, you know, what art was for her. She saw being, you know, to be an artist is really to be condemned to this life of repetition where you have no choice but to continue, you know, expressing yourself and sort of acting out your traumas. Craig: [00:25:56] In a previous conversation on the podcast, I spoke with Marilyn Minter. Her work focuses on female sexuality and feminism. I was asking her if she intended any part of the sexuality in her work to convey a certain amount of shock, and she started referencing Louise in that that she did not intend to shock, but sometimes the male gaze feels threatened by a young woman talking about these issues of hypersexual topics or imagery. But how, in Louise's case, dealing with these phallic images, you know, images of female genitalia when in her late 80s that people they did not feel threatened by Louise the way a much younger artist would have been received? Philip: [00:26:51] No, no. I think I mean, what I could say to, I mean, I think I understand what you're going with this and I think that, you know, one thing about Freudian psychoanalysis for all that it sometimes seems to be in bad odor nowadays to have been sort of debunked as people say, or that it's been somehow demonstrated to be false. Psychoanalysis was revolutionary in its time or around the time of its invention because it took sexuality from the margins and put it back at the center of life. That was part of the reason why so many of the early psychoanalysts were female. Karen Horney, Melanie Klein, Freud's own real life daughter Anna Freud, also Helen Deutsch, Marie Bonaparte. I mean, the list goes on. It's a field that's essentially co-founded by women, and I think these are all very liberated women by the standards of their time, who found in psychoanalysis a way of talking about their sexuality that wasn't fraudulent or, you know, shot through with Victorian pieties. And I think Louise would have agreed that sexuality was was the center of life. And, you know, she even says in her writing is the fixed center, the fixed center of Jenny Ground, a novel by Balzac that she loved about a younger woman with an older, overbearing father of all things. And so, Louise, I think, you know, there was this feeling that, you know, it's she's talking about sexuality because to some extent, sexuality or identity. And also, to some extent, sexuality is always traumatic. There is a traumatic component to sexuality, no matter that, whether we acknowledge it in our everyday lives or not, it is about this sort of, you know, the two in one, the return to the idea, you know, whether it's the return to the mother, you know, the temporary illusion thereof or the violence that often underlies a lot of sexuality, whether it's expressed, you know what we say is a correct way or not a correct way nowadays. Philip: [00:28:31] And I think there is some truth to what you know, to what to what Marilyn Minter is saying that, you know, for you know, Louise often said the art world loves young men and old women. And so it took a long time for people to accept that a woman was talking about sexual matters. So frankly, you know, and Louise had a very, you know, she had a long career and it wasn't until she was already well into her 70s that there was a real critical appreciation for what you know, for her artistic achievement. But I don't think I mean, I don't think that Louise would have said there was something. I mean, she was never trying to be sensationalist. And, you know, when she worked, she wasn't really aware of an audience. It was really, you know, she called it working under a spell later on when the work was completed. You know, it was a real discharge of unconscious material. She almost, you know, she sort of forgot about it and moved on to the next piece. So she wasn't really she wasn't that conscious of the audience at any stage, you know? And you know this again, it goes back a little bit to the fact that she was neglected by the world for so long. You know, it took, you know, it took a long time for the art world to catch up to what she was doing. Craig: [00:29:36] And so where did your relationship with Louise begin? Because I feel like this has been the focus of your work for quite a while. Was it still during her lifetime? Philip: [00:29:47] Yes, I met Louise, and in 2001 I started working for her fairly informally in 2002 and continued as her "literary archivist" up until the death in 2010 and when the psychoanalytic writings were first discovered. They really became my project and I've been so I have been working on this for, you know, that's coming up on 20 years now. And she is, I think, a wonderful Louise is an incredible writer in addition to being a great artist. People read these writings. They will see that Louise insight into herself, her use of language, the way she shuttles back and forth between French and English. It's all you know there's I think Louise has has has a gift for expression and no one, no one, no one writes like Louise. That's what I make the claim that these, you know, the discovery of these writings, you know, the significance of this discovery really goes way beyond merely art history. It's significant for psychoanalysis. It's significant, certainly for feminism, but it's also significant as a literary event. Louise is really, you know, has a singular gift for expression, which I think will come to be recognized as as the writings are published. But I was I would, you know, I hasten to say that I wasn't close to Louise. I knew Louise. I would go in and sometimes read the writings to her to ask her about this or that. You know, I worked with her on other things as well. But you know, we got along very well, but I never saw. By the time I met Louise, she was already, you know, very. Although I think she was 89 when I met her, so some of the sort of the more explosive episodes that other people witnessed, it sort of died down by then. I mean, you just can't you just can't give it a go when you're 90, when you're 70, apparently. Craig: [00:31:25] So you can still sort of throw things across the room. Philip: [00:31:28] She certainly well, you know, I never I never saw that. But yes, she would. She was prone to breaking things. When she was mad, she was prone. I mean, she held a Sunday salon for 25 years and, you know, she used to call it Sunday Bloody Sunday because people would come in and want to show their work to the great artist Louise Bourgeois. They wanted her seal of approval. And, you know, Louise didn't just give it out because you showed up and said hello to her. So it was often quite, you know, her critiques could be quite brutal. And, you know, in a way, I think she thought it was. It was. It was a kind of generosity because you're telling people the truth, right? You know, and the truth of the, you know, the truth will set you free. If you know the truth of what Louise thought it was actually more valuable than someone just pretending to be nice or following you off, which I think is what happens often is not with a lot of young artists. But but yeah, Louise had a, you know, she had such a strong, very strong personality and within her world, in her house, she was very much, I mean, she was in control. And she said that elsewhere, I think I think the house almost became a kind of work for Louise. And, you know, the foundation is fortunate to be able to keep it open by appointment only. It's something that we're we're lucky to have it in a way more or less unchanged from when she was alive. You do have the feeling when you go there that she's just sort of stepped out of the room and, yeah, very vivid personality. Very, very singular. Craig: [00:32:48] These writings were very personal to her. But in your conversation with her, she reached a point where she was willing to share that level of transparency as part of her oeuvre versus being something to. Because I don't know if anyone ever writes a diary with its intention of being shared. It sounds like in your conversations with her, she had embraced this literary distribution at that point in her life. Philip: [00:33:16] She never intended these writings to be published. They consist of dream recordings, their so-called process notes where she reacts to the analytic process. They're often notes for the next session. They consist of a reflections on a run, sculpture on creativity or in general, and also on psychoanalysis. So. But Louise really wrote them almost as an aide to the psychoanalytic process, so they're derived from a practical event. They weren't written with a view to publication at any time, and Louise also kept a journal throughout her life. It was a habit that she had been trained in as a young girl, and she kept it pretty much throughout her life, except for the last few years and for this period from 52 to 67 when she was in psychoanalysis. During that time, the psychoanalytic writings, the loose sheets, as we call them, really displaced the diaries. This is partly because Louise wasn't going out as much. She wasn't working she had. She wasn't working for part of that time, I should say she stopped having solo shows from 1953 to 1964. So during the high tide of her immersion in psychoanalysis, there really, there wasn't that much in the way of a quotidian life that would require a diary anyway. Philip: [00:34:20] But yeah, later in life. I mean, when I spoke to her about the publication, she, you know, she was completely, you know, she was completely fine with that. She gave me her blessing. And you know, Louise in general felt this, that if she said she wanted to be a woman without secrets, she wanted to make a clean breast of it. She wanted to be transparent. And she had this feeling the French expression to progress it to to pardon. If you could make yourself be understood, then she would be forgiven. And there's a lot you could say about that intense guilt and need for forgiveness that Louise experienced, but she didn't ever really hold back in either her art or her writing. So even though these are the writings are very intimate, she's talking about a lot of things that are highly personal. I think, you know, for Louise, it was of a piece with what she was doing in their art also. Craig: [00:35:08] Well, Philip, I really appreciate your time. The exhibit is Louise Bourgeois, Freud's daughter, and it's up at the Jewish Museum through late September. Is that right? Philip: [00:35:20] Yes, September 12th is the closing date OK? Craig: [00:35:22] And if if people wanted to to keep keep track of you is if they wanted to to follow, would they be following the Easton Foundation or is there? Do you have a website or Philip: [00:35:35] I now work at the Easton Foundation as curator as I work on a lot of Louise's The Wheezes exhibition. So yeah, I mean, that's that would be the best way to follow me. Craig: [00:35:46] Well, again, this has been very enlightening and you know, I feel like it's just an invitation for for someone to to take a deeper dove into the the immense body of work that we left behind. I really appreciate the hard work you've done to put all these pieces together. Philip: [00:36:03] Thank you very much. Craig: [00:36:07] You know, each week in this slot, I take a timeout to tell you a little bit more about why I love my Canvia to this point, I've shared stories about how I've found my favorite painting by browsing on the device, how the art that pops up has created conversations with my kids. Plus, I've shared about Canvia commitment to technology leadership being the first brand to provide secure display of NFTs from your crypto wallet and patents on providing the highest quality image for the longest amount of time. To this point, we've really only talked about how Canvia helps you display your artwork. But did you know that Canvia is also perfect for displaying your photography? Canvia has been selling frames for years to professional photographers who want a way to faithfully display their work for a photographer. There are thousands of images at their disposal, so why choose a display only one when you can create a playlist of all your favorites, especially if you're wanting to display a variety of work to prospective customers at an art fair or in a gallery? But these days, we're all photographers. And did you know that you can upload photos straight from your phone to your Canvia? In fact, just this week, Canvia added an integration with Google Photos. I don't know about you, but I have like 20 years of photos in my Google Photos account, and now I can display images from my wedding or the birth of my kids straight to my Canvia. It's a nice way to release these photos from their digital prison. So if you want to learn more about Canvia and all of its display solutions, head over to Canvia Dot Art and check it out. And now my conversation with Christiane Pooley about dreams of home. And. Craig: [00:37:51] So, Christine, I really appreciate you being willing to to join us for the conversation today. I love your work. There are things about it visually that are very intriguing. But I think what's also intriguing is that your work is very tied to place, and that's something that keeps coming up in our conversations with artists on the podcast. So maybe we could start with you telling us about Chile and in particular our Canvia, because I think that plays a big role in your work, right? Christiane: [00:38:21] Yeah, thank you. First of all, for the invitation Craig, I'm happy to talk about Araucanía, which is the place I was born. This is a beautiful region in the south southern Chile. It's a region that is full of volcanoes. It has like a natural beauty that is like. Breathtaking when you see it, and it also has a history that is. A bit complicated. It was a region that was attached to the Chilean territory in the 1860s, around 1860s. And obviously was attached through violent acts. The army sized indigenous lands and they integrated to the national territory, they sell the lands to particular people to grow and make agriculture. So the ideology in that time was like to be productive. So they wanted to didn't want like this beautiful landscape. They want their land to be productive. And that was that was the ideology. So they did this and they broke a lot of indigenous families. They brought the the way of living and like a certain chronic violence started from this moment, of course. The land is always linked to violence, we will fight for the land since human beings been here. So this is nothing new, but since it's the history of Chile, we are talking. Speaker4: [00:40:01] It's a it's a violence we need to face and we didn't really do that job as a society. Chile is doing it a bit more, recognizing indigenous people and doing more work about history. That is important. I come from this region and my family came from different places. I'm a mix of different races. I'm Chilean. This has been Chilean too. It's been like a mix of colonizers and people who were there. And so I talk about this place because I grew there. I come from a family of agriculteurs. I'm very linked to the land. I grew up knowing about the cycles of agriculture about, like when it should rain, what it should and when it was like a good rain or a bad rain. So I feel very attached to the cycles of the land in a way. Um, so my my concern as a painter is to express myself, first of all. So I wanted to ask myself the question where I come from. So it's it's also like kind of philosophical question, but I started thinking about the images that relate to this place of origin. And I worked from photographs, so I started to go to like historical museums in Chile to see what photographs a. Speaker4: [00:41:32] The photography that comes from this place, photography, of course, was discovered late, so you have the first photograph in. I don't know from the area around 1860 to 1850 or something like that. So that was my that was my my source material images. Archival images from Chile, from the southern region. The images that I collected from family albums. The images of the current territorial conflict that is going on in this region because there's a lot of indication of land by certain indigenous communities. And. And the images that I feel they can serve me as a way of expressing myself visually. So that was the that was the beginning of my research in terms of image for preparing this exhibition that I did in April in the gallery in London. So the exhibition title was the need for roots. So it was all of this. Not that I'm trying to grasp through painting, not trying to theorize, just trying to give like a like a visual materiality to to this. Not that is like being from this region that is has a lot of activity because of history and the passing of time and different people inhabiting this place. Sure. So... Craig: [00:43:10] It's very interesting because, you know, we're only four or five episodes into the podcast, but we're already dealing with some themes over and over again. One one is an artist tied to a specific place. And then there's also the question of ownership who has rightful ownership to a place or a culture. You know, I see that coming up in your work, your work. It seems to teeter between faded memories in dreams that you can't quite piece together. Can you talk a little bit about the emotion that you're trying to convey in your work? Christiane: [00:43:52] It's hard to give you, like to put it in words properly, because that's why I think because we don't know how to express, but I think I like this idea. Is a beautiful text which is in the Bible, but it's a beautiful text. Not because it's religious, but it's because it talks about the passing of of time and cycles of life, which is the accessed. Mm hmm. And and I really like this idea of how events a generation succeed one another and how we live sediments of this passing of time in in a surface. So what I like to think is that this thing that is very like macro that you cannot really it's difficult to even imagine you can make like a kind of parallel and an echo in the surface of a painting. So I like to imagine, like when I paint, I put, I overlap different layers. Different information is being put on the surface. Some layers are being wiped off, some layers are being covered by other layers. And this in a way which goes me like the passing of time and how we and how we build on how we build histories like why certain events are. Christiane: [00:45:18] We remember why other events are covered by other events. And and I think that's very interesting in in the in the painted image that it has a materiality and a time that is present while you look at it. So in this sense, I think it makes me think about these relations, about people inhabiting a territory and how we know how we we deal with this memory and especially today the memories being so, so heavy. Actually, we have so much information, emails, registers and we feel that we can rewrite on history like forever, you know, especially now like we are. I feel like I feel a bit of fear, maybe like how much information we have and how about the past? And are we more like the way we move to the future is so tied to the past. In a way, these are the kind of questions I do myself through painting without, without theorizing, because I'm not an intellectual. I'm an artist. Sure. So it's more about like how I feel about these kind of, I don't know, like waterfall of image that is coming through us and Craig: [00:46:51] And you made a good point. You know, we paint because we don't, right? Right. And so, yeah, I appreciate you being willing to to try to articulate the emotion because, you know, a lot of times that's something that we try to express visually. And so thank you for at least trying, trying to answer that question. And I think you did a great job there. So your works, you know, I look at them, I feel like they are at the same time, beautiful and unstable that, you know, there's implied space. Not everything's perfectly literal. Not everything is defined. Does that tie to a feeling of. Instability about that place and about the memories and just maybe the situation there. Christiane: [00:47:43] Yeah, I think because of this conflict in the region I come from and you grew up in a place feeling your children and feeling you belong to this place and at some point other people make you or tell you, we have our family, our family house bombed. So it was like a symbolic way of telling us that we don't belong to this place in a way. So when this happened, you feel that what was stable, like the feeling of national identity or belonging to a country or these are like things you don't really question. And when you just like zoom out a bit, you see that this being cycles that change all the time and it's going to be it's going to continue changing, actually. So you feel you feel your ground is not solid and it's like, I'm moving around is more like water. So. So yeah, you feel like your sense of stability and of belonging is is is not not stable. So this is why I also started thinking some floating houses on water. And I it relates to all of that of like making myself questions about what affects me emotionally. Sure. Of course, like an arson attack in your childhood home is something that makes a wound and not a one because of the material lost, but because of the symbolic loss of feeling that like the history of your country, you need to like you are. Someone is telling you that you are responsible of the history of your country and and you need to face the history and you need to face who you are. That's why I wanted to look at my origins and see what my country has done and actually not not respond to through violence. I think I wanted to. I'm completely against violence. I don't think it makes us build a country where we can all feel part of it. So how can I respond to that, asking myself the pertinent questions that should be asked what I what I think should be asked? Sure. Craig: [00:50:15] And so these paintings are what medium are these oil Christiane: [00:50:21] These are mostly oils. Lately, I've been doing a lot of like the first layers of the canvas. I'm using watercolor, which I feel it has like a super nice picture that you can then finish with oils. So mostly always. But when it's like very light layers of color, the first layers are acrylic or watercolor. Got it right. I delete a lot the oil paint, so I work with kind of translucent layers. Sure, I come. I come back a lot in paintings. I actually come back a lot with like small changes about like nuance of colors and little details. It's more like an abstract painting that I'm doing. Actually, I use images to compose an abstract painting that works first for this exhibition. I was looking at a lot of Rothko, and the guy said, Mm hmm. And also images of the Latin text and my statue that I think I are they. I like these painters a lot because the way they they build the image abstractly using figurative images that some of them. But it's an abstract painting. Sure. And that's what I wanted to do. So I use the different images to build an abstract painting. Craig: [00:51:44] Sure. Well, the yeah, the the glazing, your color, the the forms. I, you know, I really love your work. So how did you how did you wind up in Paris? Christiane: [00:51:58] I actually, well I come from this Araucanía region in southern Chile, and I moved to London in 2006 to to study for one year. And then I did like a internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. And through this experience, I met a curator who invited me to do a show in Paris in 2008. And then I met my my Korean husband, who was a French writer for The Sun, and since then I moved with him to Paris and I've been living here for like 11 years already. Craig: [00:52:35] Does living in Paris help you in this process because because you no longer live in Araucanía that you're drawing from memories instead of being surrounded by the environment? Do you think that helps your process? Christiane: [00:52:50] Yeah, completely. I think being far away from where I come from, it gives me the the necessary distance to see the whole picture in a more detached way. It's like it's like a shoot painting that you need. You need to step away to really see the whole. And for me, it's very important actually not to be there and for being able to talk about it in this way. I think, um yeah, I think I think for me, it also it doesn't make me realize how important it is to your origin because people ask you, Where are you? Where do you come from? I say I come from Chile, from Canvia. And then when I think about this place, I also have in the back of my mind like, but I don't really like. For some people, I am not legitimate from there. And like so so this question is also become important when you are a foreigner in another country. Craig: [00:53:51] Your most recent exhibit, The Need for Roots Christian Yelich, Garda I can we can put a link to to that show page. I think there is some great images there that can give folks an idea of your work. But if they wanted to stay abreast of of of your work, you know, do you have a website that folks can can visit? Christiane: [00:54:13] Yes, sure. christianepooley.net, Craig: [00:54:22] And are you on on social media like Instagram, Christiane: [00:54:26] Instagram or Facebook? The whole the whole social media Craig: [00:54:28] we have to be. Right? Speaker4: Exactly. Awesome. Christiane: [00:54:35] I think I think it's an amazing tool that Democrats democratizes the the visibility of people, and I love that. I love that people. You can be Canvia still making your work and people will see it because of this tool, which is fantastic. I love it. Craig: [00:54:51] Awesome. Well, Christiane, I really appreciate your time today. Hopefully, we've piqued the interest of our listeners to go, look in and discover your work and and appreciate its beauty in its complexity. And so I really appreciate it. Christiane: [00:55:07] Thank you so much, Craig. Craig: [00:55:18] And now the news. Bmw recently announced the 18th version of its art car. The program started back in nineteen seventy five when Lemon Driver and art lover Hervé Pullen and BMW Motorsport founder Watkin near page approached Alexander Calder about creating a design for that year's lemon entry. Over the last forty five plus years, the list of artists to participate has been a veritable who's who of the contemporary art world Lichtenstein, Warhol, Stella, Rauschenberg, Holger Koontz. Baldassare, number 18, was designed by Chinese artists qualify and utilizes augmented reality. The physical car appears black, but Faye has designed a kaleidoscope of light shapes that emit in a virtual realm around the car to celebrate the program and its leap into air. The Bavarian automaker has partnered with augmented reality platform Acute Art to provide air versions of the BMW art cars viewable through their app. Acute art has worked with art world heavyweights like Cause All of Her Eliason and AI Weiwei to create augmented reality sculptures that are viewed in specific geographic locations around the world. These installations provide the ability to see a sculpture in a particular location by viewing through your phone's camera in the acute art app. In the case of the BMW art cars, a user of the app will be able to select a specific art car and view it through the app wherever they're pointing their camera. You can view the art cars at the beach, in your driveway, your backyard, or even your living room. Craig: [00:57:04] The possibilities are limitless if you've ever watched a program on PBS. You've probably heard a voiceover telling you that your program was brought to you, in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Well, John D. MacArthur owned Bankers Life and Casualty, as well as a bevy of real estate holdings in California and Florida in upon his passing in nineteen seventy eight. He left ninety two percent of his estate, about a billion dollars to establish the foundation in his and his wife's name with the intent to support, quote creative people, effective institutions and influential networks, building a more just verdant and peaceful world. The endowment today is worth approximately $7 billion and gives away two hundred and sixty million dollars each year in grants and impact investments. Among these are the famous MacArthur Genius grants. These 20 to 30 annual recipients are officially referred to as MacArthur Fellows, and the grants are awarded to individuals who quote show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work. The award is not for past accomplishments, but for the potential of what the fellow could accomplish with the extra funding since twenty fifteen. This no strings attached grant amount has been six hundred and twenty five thousand dollars per fellow paid quarterly over five years each year. Fellows are added in the fields of science, humanities in the arts. Craig: [00:58:37] Previous art world MacArthur Fellows include Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, Nicole Iseman and now for the first time, a collaborative art exhibit is bringing together former MacArthur Fellows to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the fellowship program. Twenty nine art fellows are collaborating to create Biennale style installations across Chicago, home of the foundation toward Common Cause Art. Social change in the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 was curated by Abigail Winograd, who has also curated a 40th anniversary exhibit at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Winograd worked with the artist to establish projects that were community specific, collaborative with its residents and able to be a permanent part of the community. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate the show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art. And click on the podcast tab if you'd like to reach out to me. You can email me at Craig at Canvia. Art, thanks for listening.
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