Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed
You can answer all questions or pick the questions that are most suitable for your group
(1) Look at the works in the Louise Bourgeois exhibition. Which one do you think would have been Freud’s favourite piece, and why?
(2) From the evidence you can find in Freud’s study and the rest of the house, where do you think Freud got his ideas from? From the evidence of her art work and her writing, where did Louise Bourgeois get her ideas from?
(3) Freud said that dreams contain unconscious thoughts that have been disguised or encoded in order to make them acceptable to consciousness (and to other people). Do you think the same can be said about the process of making a work of art? What unconscious thoughts might there be in Louise Bourgeois’s art?
(4) Freud identified two psychological processes in the formation of dream symbols: ‘condensation’ and ‘displacement’. What do you think these terms mean? Find an example of each of these processes in Louise Bourgeois’s art. (If you do not know what the terms mean, MAKE SOMETHING UP).
(5) Look at the Knife Figure (in the downstairs exhibition room). What do you think Louise Bourgeois is trying to symbolise in this work? Why did she use symbols instead of representing things directly?
(6) Look at the piece under the glass dome (halfway up the stairs). What do you think Louise Bourgeois is trying to represent? Why do you think she called it A Dangerous Obsession?
(7) Look closely at the picture hanging on the far wall of the downstairs exhibition room. It actually belonged to Freud and was hung above his psychoanalytic couch. What scene is being depicted in this image? Why do you think the curator of the exhibition has decided to display it alongside Louise Bourgeois’s works?
(8) Why do you think Louise Bourgeois named the spider sculpture in the garden Maman (mother)? Is it really a spider? What would you use to represent your own mother?
(9) Louise Bourgeois was in psychoanalysis for many years. How would you diagnose her? i.e. What do you think she was suffering from?
THE DANGEROUS OBSESSION, 2003
Fabric, glass, stainless steel and wood
143.5 x 61 x 50.8 cm.
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth and Cheim & Read
Photo: Christopher Burke, © Louise Bourgeois Trust