HeARTbeat : Louise Bourgeois’s Fabric “Drawings” Draw Us In

Louise Bourgeois sewed memories together with fabric from her life.

It is not an image that I am seeking.  It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving and of destroying. Louise Bourgeois

For the past two months, there was an exhibit  up at Cheim & Read‘s New York gallery that was worth a trip to Manhattan. Louise Bourgeois’s fabric “drawings,” assembled from personal objects such as discarded clothing, bed and table linens were on view.


Bourgeois, who was born in Paris in 1911, moved to New York in 1938, where she lived and worked until her death last year at age 98.

Arguably one of the most influential female artists of the 20th century, Bourgeois’s work was consistently intimate and connected to her memories.

Likewise, this series, done towards the end of her life between 2002 and 2010, suggests her personal history.

Growing up in Paris her parents owned a tapestry restoration business.  When she was 15, Bourgeois was taken out of school to join them. Surrounded by 17th and 18th century textiles, which she helped to repair, Bourgeois said of sewing, “I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned. The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole.”


Her recognizable imagery of webs, spirals and organic forms allude to her well-known sculptures, providing us with clues to her interior process as she pieces her memories into pleasing vignettes.

“Clothing is…an exercise of memory. It makes me explore the past…like little signposts in the search for the past.”

Within this series of  complex fabric “drawings,” Bourgeois’s mesmerizing signposts beckon, and we cannot help but follow.


Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her personal blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.