ON VIEW:
August 31 December 4, 2021
Reception: September 30, 2021, from
4 – 7pm

Installation view of Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. On view through December 4, 2021.
Image by: Mario Gallucci.

UPCOMING EVENT:

Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem
From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Overview

Although best known for her profound sculptures of monumental spiders, evocative human figures, and fleshly anthropomorphic forms, Louise Bourgeois maintained a prolific drawing and writing practice and an ongoing interest in illustrated books and printmaking throughout the course of her long career. Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem presents 119 works with a focus on prints, textiles, and a series of eight holograms, ranging in date from the 1940s to the early 2000s. These works build on the raw emotional terrain of Bourgeois’ practice, and explore feelings of isolation, anger, and fear through the recurring depiction of the body, childhood, family, architecture, and the passage of time.

Bourgeois described her relationship to making art as one of survival and dependence; she experienced a lifelong struggle with trauma and anxiety which was appeased only by the outward expression of her own artistic and written production. She openly acknowledged her vulnerability because it gave her purpose, and the work born from that purpose gave form to her particular kind of suffering. In relation to this condition of living and working Bourgeois aptly coined the now famous phrase: “Art is a guarantee of sanity.”

Bourgeois was keenly sensitive to the power of language when combined with image. She had a prolific writing practice her entire life, with her most active periods occurring in the 1950s and 1960s while she underwent psychoanalysis. Her writing is honest, poetic, and often autobiographical. Read alongside the entirety of her work, these words depict an individual in crisis, a running narrative of a woman struggling with the pressures and expectations of being a daughter, a wife, a mother, and an artist. “What is the shape of this problem?” is a question presented on the opening page of a series of nine letterpress diptychs of image and text produced by Bourgeois in 1999 and in many ways it is a poignant frame for this exhibition. This question, like much of the text used in her prints, positions these works within Bourgeois’ multi-layered practice of identifying and bravely exploring her personal history, her creative process, and her mental health. These words boldly place suffering and making parallel to each other, suggesting that abstract emotions can, and should, be given form. It is this acknowledgment that provides the balance of her creative practice and life, and entwined dependence that makes the work of Louise Bourgeois artistically and emotionally intelligent.

Art in Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem is from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation and funding to support this exhibition and related programming is from Jordan Schnitzer through The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation. It is curated by Naomi Potter, Director/Chief Curator, Esker Foundation, Calgary, Canada.

Detail of Louise Bourgeois, “Ode a L'Oubli” a series of fabric and color lithograph book pages, unbound and framed. Closest artwork includes the text “I had a flashback of something that never existed” in red.Louise Bourgeois, “Ode a L'Oubli” a series of 34 fabric and color lithograph book pages, unbound and framed. A pedestal to the left displays the cover of the textile book.Two framed prints hang together. On the left is “Mother and Child,” a drypoint print. A female figure sits on the lowest of a tower of rectangles, holding an infant in her lap. To the right is “My Hand,” a lithograph on vintage cloth, showing a red hand with a background of empty music bars.Artwork installed in JSMA at PSU. From the left to right: “Ode a L’Oubli,” “Mother and Child,” “My Hand,” “The Guilty Girl is Fragile,” and “Crochet 1-5.”Installation view “Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem?,”  a series of ten lithograph and letterpress prints. Each print depicts images paired with text.Installation view of exhibition statement and upstairs gallery for Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.Installation view of downstairs gallery for Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.Louise Bourgeois “Hours of the Day,” a collection of 25 fabric prints displayed in rows. Each print shows red text alongside a clock with an hour of the day, with a background of blank music bars.Detail of Louise Bourgeois “Hours of the Day.” Red text and a red clock with a background of blank music bars is printed on individual pillowcases.Installation view of three Louise Bourgeois works. Starting on the left is  “Self Portrait,” a drypoint, softground etching, and aquatint. In the middle is “Ste. Sebastienne,” a drypoint print. On the right is “Spider Woman,” a drypoint print.Installation view of Louise Bourgeois, “He Disappeared into Complete Silence,” a series of intaglio prints. The prints primarily feature line drawings of abstracted architectural forms.Installation view of “Feet (Socks),” “Ears,” and “Anatomy.” Two drypoints hang vertically on the left wall. “Feet (socks)” is hung above “Ears,” “Anatomy” on the right wall is a series of four etchings depicting various anatomical body parts.Installation view of untitled holographic images on glass, numbered one through eight. The images glow with red light. Installation view of six Louise Bourgeois pieces. From right to left: “Blue Bed,” “Hamlet and Ophelia,” “Couples,” “Self Portrait,” “Ste. Sebastienne,” and “Spider Woman.


FALL PROGRAMMING & UPCOMING EVENTS

WEAVE / REPAIR

Saturdays in October, 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM


In recognition of Louise Bourgeois’ deep knowledge of textiles and coinciding with Portland Textile Month, the museum will be partnering with PSU’s Textile Arts program to invite visitors to weave collective cloths in three different scales.

Drop-in for these demonstrations led by PSU students.
RSVP HERE


Artist Talk | Srijon Chowdhury

October 12, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Join us for the first of three talks with Oregon artists recently added to the PSU Art Collection and whose work touches on themes and materials found in
Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem, From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.

RSVP HERE

Artist Talk | Ellen Lesperance

October 19, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Join us for the second of three talks with Oregon artists recently added to the PSU Art Collection and whose work touches on themes and materials found in
Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem, From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.

RSVP HERE

Collaborative Poetic Weaving

October 23, 2021 - 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

In conjunction with Portland Textile Month and PSU Textile Arts program,
Orquidia Velasquez will lead a workshop inspired by Japanese Renga poetry and Surrealist Exquisite Corpse drawings. Join in composing a collaborative woven poem.


Space is limited!
RSVP HERE

Artist Talk | Jovencio de la Paz

October 26, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Join us for the final talk of this series with Oregon artists recently added to the PSU Art Collection and whose work touches on themes and materials found in Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem, From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.

RSVP HERE


JORDAN SCHNITZER MUSEUM OF ART at PSU

1855 SW BROADWAY
PORTLAND, OR 97201

P: (503) 725-8013
E:
jsma@pdx.edu

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