Tate Modern Level 4
10 October 2007 – 20 January 2008
Louise Bourgeois’ seminal work, The Destruction of the Father 1974, will go on display in the UK for the first time at Tate Modern this autumn as part of a major survey exhibition of her work. This important and unsettling installation, made of rubber, latex, wood, fabric and lit with a red glow, is one of Bourgeois’ most significant works from a long and rich career which spans more than seven decades. It will form one of the key moments in the exhibition and is a pivotal work in her oeuvre.
Directly accessing Bourgeois’ childhood anxieties and preoccupations with family relationships, The Destruction of the Father firmly points to one of the major themes on which all of her work is predicated. The piece references a family dinner table, headed by a tyrannical father and husband, surrounded by a family rendered terrified by his dominance who are driven to suddenly attack and devour him. Bourgeois has said: ”The Destruction of the Father is very claustrophobic, extremely claustrophobic. There is no way to escape’.
The Destruction of the Father (approximately 12 feet long by 8 feet high and 8 feet deep)can be linked to the artist’s later well-known series of Cells, large, enclosed and oppressive environments, made in the 1990s. The abscess-like protrusions in the work, viewed as if in a theatre space, echo the organic forms seen in earlier works such as Avenza 1968-9 and Soft Landscape 1967.
As part of the same exhibition, Bourgeois’ Maman (Mother) 1999, one of a series of giant spiders made by her in the 1990s, will be displayed on the north landscape outside the gallery. Standing nine metres high, this sculpture of a female spider carrying her white marble eggs beneath her alludes to the strength of the mother with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.
Louise Bourgeois is regarded as one of the most important artists working today. Born in 1911 in Paris, she moved to New York in 1938. She has always been at the forefront of new developments in art, but has pursued a wholly personal path, removed from the major avant-garde movements of her time. She has explored her ideas in painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance, using extraordinarily varied media, from wood and stone to latex and rubber. This breadth of materials is balanced by an almost obsessive continuity of subject matter, and deeply autobiographical themes.
Bourgeois has had monographic exhibitions at many institutions, among them The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1982 and The Guggenheim in Bilbao in 2001/2. In 1993 she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale and in 2000 she was the first artist commissioned in the Unilever Series at Tate Modern.
Louise Bourgeois will open at Tate Modern on 11 October 2007 and will run until 20 January 2008. It will feature more than 200 works spanning seventy years and is the first major survey of her work in the UK. Many of the works in the exhibition have not been seen in this country before.