Art History: Louise Bourgeois’s river
Research Seminar: Louise Bourgeois’s river: weaving the Bièvre
The Bièvre was Paris’s second natural waterway for centuries until was buried underground, starting in the late 18th century until the 1950s, when it fully disappeared from sight. The Bièvre is a key theme for French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), whose work often features the river that flowed beside her childhood home, sustaining her parents’ tapestry repair business. This paper explores Bourgeois’s representation of the Bièvre, notably in her 2007 fabric book Ode à la Bièvre, arguing that behind its explicit autobiographical content lies a network of intertextual and inter‐arts connections: from Victor Hugo’s poetry to music composed by Louise Bertin and via Eugène Atget’s photographic archives. Borrowing Barthes’s play on the etymology shared by text and textile, this paper reads Bourgeois’s fabric book as an actual ‘new cloth woven with old quotations’: a visual embodiment of intertextuality that uncovers an overlooked corpus of art works centered on a forgotten river.
Venue: Schaeffer Seminar Room 210, RC Mills Building, A26