Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and the Tangerine

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday October 6, 2008

The MFA Film Program is pleased to present an 8-show engagement of Amei Wallach and Marion Cajori's documentary "Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and the Tangerine," November 6-30.

Art documentarian Marion Cajori collaborated with critic and scholar Amei Wallach on the project, filming nearly Bourgeois' entire body of work (1938-2007) as well as numerous interviews and encounters in Louise's home and studio from 1993-2007.

In addition to Louise's magnetic, mercurial and emotionally raw screen presence, Cajori and Wallach include interviews with her friends, as well as curators and art historians. All of these elements combine to create a dramatic and revelatory journey inside the life and imagination of an icon of modern art.

One of the definitive artists of the 20th century, Louise Bourgeois was first woman to be honored with a major retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Louise was born in Paris to an upper class French family with a tapestry restoration business. She studied mathematics and philosophy, and later art, in Paris.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Louise immigrated to New York with husband and art scholar Robert Goldwater. Louise continued to work as painter and printmaker throughout the war, and her work was shown in galleries, as well as in group shows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. After the war, Louise made her first forays into sculpture, constructing a rooftop studio at her home.

After her husband's death in 1973, Louise rented her first studio and entered a renewed phase in her career. She was discovered by a new generation and in the decades since, her work has been included in major international group and solo exhibitions.

As an artist she has for six decades been at the forefront of successive new developments, but always on her own powerfully inventive and disquieting terms. Through her daring journey into her own psyche, she produces astonishing new forms in painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, collage, installation and monumental constructions.

Her art shows us what it is to be a human being who inhabits a body - a body that is born in trauma and is prey to the thoughts, fears, fantasies, desires and conflicts of biology, history and family life.

Marion Cajori was an independent filmmaker who founded the non-profit Art Kaleidoscope Foundation in 1990 to produce in-depth cinematic portraits of individual creators and their art.

A few weeks before her death at the age of 56 in August, 2006, she completed a full-length feature about Chuck Close and the community of artists he is associated with. Chuck Close profiles Elizabeth Murray, Tom Friedman, Klaus Kertess, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kirk Varnedoe, among many others, as Close completes a painting from beginning to end, with a miniature camera attached to his brush.

Amei Wallach is an art critic, commentator and curator. This is her first film. She was for many years chief art critic for New York Newsday and on-air arts commentator for the "MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour."

Tickets: Members, seniors and students $8; general admission $10. Discount matinee prices (weekday until 5 pm; weekends until 12:30 pm) are $6, $7. To purchase please call the box office at 617-369-3306 or online at www.mfa.org/film.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.