ICA - Dumas and Bourgeois
The image at the top is called Spiral Women by artist Louise Bourgeois. It is bronze with a black slate disc at the bottom. Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 and in her early career as an artist she was an engraver and painter. From the 1940's on she mainly did sculptural work out of bronze, fabric, and wood. She was influence by the surrealists and memories of her childhood.
The next image is titled The Messengers by artist Marlene Dumas. Dumas is from South Africa and now resides in Amsterdam. She is well know for painting "explicit" watercolor nudes of adults and children. Two other paintings in this piece are missing and i was unable to find images of them on the web. Below is a sketch i did of the third skeleton image and the spiral woman.
In viewing the two works i notice lots of similarities and differences in their use of shape. Both images are plastic because the have depth. Dumas Has lots of implied shape in her work (positive and negative space not intentionally created by the artist). Bourgeois' uses biomorphic shapes (organic). The way each artist organized shape helped them both achieve great emotional effects.
Both works use the figure as subject matter. For Bourgeois it is more abstract and is the outside of the figure. Dumas depicts the actual inside skeletal parts of the figure with also images of children who are not skeletons.
Both paintings are inspired from very personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Dumas did her painting while pregnant. She said the painting was about fear of bringing another being into the world. Thus, the inspiration was derived from thoughts having to do with the future. Bourgeois's sculpture inspiration came from her childhood memories. They are both similar in that both works are derived from an internal personal experience individual to each artist. Each work has an emotionality and mystery to it. Each piece makes the viewer think about what it may be about.
The spiral and the skeleton have great spacial aspects. The spiral goes on and on forever and the image of a skeleton reminds one of oncoming death.
The way each artist used scale is interesting. Bourgeois hangs her spiral woman in mid-air about 5 feet above a black disc. The space between the disc and the spiral woman is simple but powerful. Because the spiral woman is so much smaller than the large black disc she stands out more. The color of the spiral woman also contrasts with the disc causing it to come to life more. The circle shape of the disc has harmony and unity with the circular pattern of the spiral women. The Messengers are all painted on large rectangular canvas. Dumas has 4 separate paintings lined up in a row to view. The first three are of a skeleton and the last is of a naked female child. The images are life size unlike Louise's Spiral Woman.
The Focal point in the Messengers are the skeletons. Unlike Louise's open presentation the skeletons are boxed in with long vertical and horizontal lines on the left and right side of the canvas. This creates a certain tension that forces the eyes gaze back to the skeleton.
Both artists have similar use of curvular shapes in their pieces. One can see strange rings around the skeletons arms and legs. These curvy shapes can be seen in the ribcage of the skeletons. The use of curvy shapes helps both artists create harmony in each work.
The formal elements are also very similar in that both lead the eye in an up and down motion. In the Spiral Woman one starts attending to the spiral and the eyes gaze eventually drops down to the disc and then back up to the spiral. The Messengers is similar as the eyes gaze is forced to view the work in the up and down motion because of the rectangle canvas it was created on.