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Bourgeois and Saar

Bourgeois and Saar

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Published by Robin Zelenka
Comparative analysis of works by two artists.
Comparative analysis of works by two artists.

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Published by: Robin Zelenka on Feb 13, 2012
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Robin L. ZelenkaArtist comparisonGroup 1Bourgeois and SaarMonthly visits to my mentor in Cincinnati have provided an excellent opportunity for discussionsrelating my current work with other artists who have either presented, created, or have had conceptssimilar to my own. Arising out of these conversations, I have researched several artists that upon firstsight their work absolutely spoke to me in one way or another. Installations are a new venue that isslowly becoming a part of my personal inventory that is still in its early stage of development, and thesewomen are exceptional in their field which will help me to aspire to new goals within my own work.First and foremost, the sublime has always been a curiosity to me and this was struck within mewhen I first saw the images of Louise Bourgeois Spider. Spider is a very imposing structure that hasconfrontational elements within its composition which present a challenge to the viewer. Another typeof challenge is presented in the work of Alison Saar entitled Coup, in were the sculpture itself has thedecision of challenging itself to break free.Louise Bourgeois Spider was created in 1997 out of steel and mixed media, with dimensions of 175 x 262 x 204 inches. (Bal) Spider was originally created as a part of the Cell series as more of atheoretical piece. At first glance you see a dominating giant spider in bronze resting on top of the roundwoven steel cage with its legs curved down and over the sides as if to guard its prey, which sets an initialtone of confrontation to the viewer. This first impression is in complete opposition to what is felt whenyou approach Alison Saars piece titled Coup.Coup originated in 2006 and is comprised of wood, wire, tin and found objects with an overalldimension of 52 x 168 x 52 inches. (Peterson) The first impression that I had received was not one of confrontation or that there was an imposing threat, but rather the feeling of a relationship to theobjects that comprised the installation. Saars subtle approach uses familiarity so that one can easily
 
Robin L. ZelenkaArtist comparisonGroup 1began to relate to the objects, and feel invited to move in for a closer inspection. Coup is just asconfrontational, but not until you have observed the complete installation and absorbed all of theinformation that is available.To fully understand we must look at the entire composition of the piece. Coup is comprised of alife-sized statue of a seemingly African American female carved out of wood and encased in tin seatedon a bare average looking wooden chair. The woman is portrayed unclothed looking ahead whileattached behind by her long braided hair to a large grouping of baggage. My first impression of thisinstallation was one of simple understanding that we as humans carry or are tied to our pastexperiences which are quite literally portrayed by the various sizes of suitcases, but as I looked closer Icame to the realization that a much more powerful moment was about to take place or was it? Graspedbetween her two hands resides a pair of scissors, still closed pointing upwards persuading an audienceto think about the decision that needs to be made. The confrontation or challenge that resides in thisdecision compels the audience to look into their own decision making processes and form a relationshipwith the piece.Spider, by its immediate onset of confrontation, makes it difficult for any viewer to form asimilar immediate relationship to. As you progress within Bourgeois Spider, many combinations of fragmented images made out of tapestries are positioned both visible from the exterior and the interiorof the cell. Along with these tapestries, there are numerous other found objects used, such as smallpieces of bones that are placed in a variety of locations. The most striking placement of the bones is theones that are lodged within the walls of the cell, about knee height to the spider, that give the viewer asense of being watched. Within the cell is a single chair that in some ways almost looks as though it wasprepared for someone special since it is also adorned with a carefully placed tapestry on the back andseat. An audience of this piece might get the sense that this cell was built for a woman due to a number
 
Robin L. ZelenkaArtist comparisonGroup 1of old empty perfume bottles hanging throughout the cell, and that freedom is a possibility with a keydangling nearby. Intriguing placement of images throughout Spider add to the compelling and complexnature of the narrative quality of the piece.Narrative qualities within the composition are an active ingredient common to the work by bothSaar and Bourgeois. Bourgeois uses her narrative qualities in a psychodynamic fashion by interplayingelements of atypical visions of childhood trauma intertwined with formal composition. According toPotts, The structure of the story really matters, rather than its manifest content. (Potts) Bourgeoisbrings her manifest of items together in a sophisticated way to create her stories, and by doing it in thisway she infuses it with a touch of the sublime. Multilayered meanings, irony and sublimity are the basisbehind the conception of my own work, and Bourgeois has mastered the control within the compositionto make all of these formulas fit together. Saars approach to narration appears much simpler by herpredisposition to use multiple objects and real space within the orchestrations of her concepts.(Wilson) My own work has started to develop in a similar fashion by the inclusion of what would beconsidered to be real space by using life-sized objects within my work.Notably dubbed the Spiderwoman, Bourgeois had held a long and at times controversialcareer, was born December 31
st
1911 in Paris, France. Her family ran a gallery which dealt primarily withtapestries and had a workshop where she helped to repair them, and this is evident because manyexamples of tapestries hold a prominent position within her pieces. The central core to her workfocuses on her recollections of her life dealing with childhood experiences from a domineering,unfaithful father and a calculating, forgiving mother. (Cotter) Comparably Saar also pulls from her ownlife experiences, but not in the same manner as Bourgeois.

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