Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine

Beginning this Friday, SIFF Cinema is showing the film The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine, a documentary on 96-year old French sculptor Louise Bourgeois. Bourgeois has been working since the 1940's creating strange, perverse, unsettling objects. Over the years her work has evolved from painted wood carvings that resemble tribal art, to abstract cocoon-like forms, to the menacingly sexual figures that came to dominate her work in the 1970's.

Possibly her best known works are the monumental spider structures, titled Maman, from the late 1980's, but even these massive works only scratch the surface of a huge and complicated body of work.

In June of this year, Bourgeois opened a show of recent work which has garnered some of the strongest reviews of her endlessly impressive career. The show opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, moved to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in October, and will close at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. in May 2009.

A review of the show in the New York Review of Books said:

Perhaps the most amazing of the many remarkable aspects of Louise Bourgeois is that if she had died in her middle seventies we would not have known how daring, strange, ambitious, or disturbing an artist she could be. We would not have known how lively a colorist this ninety-six-year-old sculptor is capable of being; and we would have been deprived of the full measure of one of the loveliest aspects of her art, her feeling for a range of weathered, frayed, and matte textures.

The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine, in the making since 1992, is an intimate and ambitious documentary of this extraordinarily complex artist. Plays November 28 through December 4.

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