Touchy feely

By GREG COOK  |  November 21, 2006

For Bourgeois, such sculptures may recall her youth, her mother, her own birthing of three sons. But the power of this work for others comes from the way it calls forth deep Jungian archetypes.

Seven naked pink fabric dolls (with genitals) smooch and cuddle in Seven in a Bed (2001). It could be an orgy or maybe a single couple animated — like freeze frames from the action made manifest. Some dolls have two heads or faces on both sides on their heads. It suggests the wild tenderness of, ahem, making love. A tiny man and woman, stitched together of matted Fozzie Bear fur, float in the air (well, by a wire from the top of the vitrine) embracing in Couple (2001). A pillar of fleshy pink square pillows, growing ever wider as they rise seven feet from the floor, has its title, The Cold of Anxiety, embroidered into the side at eye level.

Bourgeois juxtaposes cloth that’s had a life of wear with industrial glass, soft with hard, warm with cold. Meaning is embodied in subtle gestures, looks, touches. Through some strange alchemy, she forges little golems that leap over logic to the place where feelings lay. They whisper about worry, about caring, about tenderness, just as a handknit sweater murmurs the love of its maker.

‘Cecily Brown’ | Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | Through January 15

‘Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child (in context)’ | Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St, Worcester | Through February 25

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