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"Louise Bourgeois: First Major Exhibition of a Living American Artist Within the Walls of the Winter Palace"
2001-10-09 until 2001-01-13
State Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg, , RU Russian Federation

An exhibition of the work of artist, Louise Bourgeois, whose prominent career has spanned six decades of movements and tides in contemporary, will be exhibited at the State Hermitage Museum. More than 200 drawings and 25 sculptures are representative of Louise Bourgeois’s work over a 60-year career, including some of her famous works of the past decade as Cell 1, The Destruction of the Father, Nature Study, Filette, as well as very recent work.

These works reveal the enormous emotional charge Bourgeois gives her creations. An installation of the Insomnia Drawings, on loan from the Daros Foundation in Switzerland, be seen in a room of the second floor of the museum. The courtyard of the Hermitage will be made available for a large Spider, which may be viewed from the exhibition rooms and all rooms facing the inner courtyard.

Louise Bourgeois first traveled to Russia in 1932 as a student. She had just received her Baccalaureate in philosophy from the University of Paris. A second trip was made in 1934, when she attended the Moscow Theatre Festival, saw the work of the Russian Constructivists and observed May Day celebrations in Red Square. She visited Leningrad spending a great deal of time at the Hermitage.

The exhibition provides a special opportunity to see Louise’s private thought feathers as they are represented in the extraordinary two hundred and twenty Insomnia Drawings which she made over the course of two years from 1994 to 1995. The exhibition gives an intimate encounter with the work of Louise Bourgeois whose autobiographical sculptures are gifts of universal feeling, desire and emotion. From the Personnages of the late 1940s which represent the members of her family she had just left behind in France, to the new casting of the great protectress, Maman, made in 2001 for the Hermitage Courtyard the Russian and international visitors to the exhibition will experience at first hand the strong will of Louise Bourgeois and the gentle power of her sculpture. She describes herself as a collector of spaces and memories and offers us countless lyrical recollections of spaces going back to her early years.

Louise Bourgeois is widely considered to be one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. She will celebrate her ninetieth birthday on December 25th, 2001. In 1982, Louise Bourgeois’s retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was the first retrospective given to a woman artist at that institution. She was elected, in 1983, a Member of the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters in New York, received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from the Massachusetts Colleage of Art in Boston and was awarded the distinction of Officier de I’Ordre des Arts et Letters by Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture. Her first European retrospective opened at the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 1989 and traveled to Munich, Lyon, Barcelona, Bern and Otterlo. In 1990, she was honored McDowell Medalist by McDowell Colony in New Hampshire and received the Sculpture Center Award for Distinction in Sculpture. In 1991, she was the first recipient of the lifetime Achievement Award from the National Sculpture Center in Washington D.C. and was awarded the Grand Prix in Sculpture by the French Ministry of Culture.

Louise Bourgeois represented the United States at the American Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1993.

In 1993, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Mayor David Dinkens presented her with the Mayor’s Award for Art and Culture, she received the1995 Biennial Award from the Royal Museum in Tokyo and the Hakone Open Air Museum in Kanagawa-Ken, Japan and a Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago. Ex-President of USA Bill Clinton presented the National Medal of Arts to Louise Bourgeois in 1997. In 1998, she received Academician of the Nation Academy in New York in the sculpture class, and in 1999, the Wexner Prize from the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association. At the 48th International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, La Biennale de Venezia, she was awarded the Golden Lion for a Living Master of Contemporary Art.

After sixty years as an artist, Louise Bourgeois has become a special case in the history of art, a case which unites the legend of her strong personality, her frank attitude to social conventions that threaten to sterilize art, and her works, which despite their singularity and nature, very in keeping with Bourgeois’ own vital vicissitude, never deplete their power to become universal imaginings of the human soul. The exhibition is sponsored by American International Group (AIG); ACE Limited; Daros

Collection, Switzerland; Helmut Lang; The Starr Foundation; The Trust For Mutual Understanding; Laurent Perrier. An information support is provided by Domovoy, Moscow. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published in English and Russian by Julie Sylvester Cabot. The catalogue features an introduction by Dr.Piotrovski, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, essay by Sophia Kudriavtzeva. A variety of educational programs will be offered, including lectures, gallery talks, An International Symposium.

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