When Louise Bourgeois died on May 31 at the age of 98, she left a towering artistic legacy.
Her assistant for 30 years, Jerry Gorovoy, recently recalled the artist’s relentless drive to work six out of seven days a week right up until her death.
“She set an example for a certain kind of art and what art means,” said Gorovoy. “For her, art was about expressing how you feel. It wasn’t a concept she was after. She believed the artist had the gift of sublimation.”
Born in France, Bourgeois moved to the U.S. in 1938 with her husband, art historian Robert Goldwater. Over the course of several decades, her work evolved from drawings and paintings to sculptures to large-scale installations. Her work received increasing attention in the 1970s, and she was later in demand as the subject of several major national and international exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Charlotta Kotik, who curated an exhibition of Bourgeois’s work to represent the United States at the 1993 Venice Biennale, described Bourgeois as a “grand dame” of art.
“She touched upon so many things during her career,” said Kotik. “She cannot be pigeonholed in any way, whether it’s gender or material or the medium or anything.”
Performance artist Marina Abramovic led an “Eye to Eye” tour of Bourgeois’s 2008 retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York.
Need to Know spoke with Abramovic just days after the completion of her own 700-plus hour marathon as the central feature of “The Artist is Present” at the Museum of Modern Art. The above slideshow features commentary from Abramovic along with images of Bourgeois’s career, from some of her early works to the 2009 Christmas card she designed to send to her friends.