Today I will take my readers along as I meander down the primrose path of my childhood connection to the outdoors. I will lead us once again to the Luxembourg Gardens, this time to the sculpture of Louise Nevelson. Through painting I attempt to recreate the surfaces and colors of nature in abstract form, juxtaposing the rough and the smooth as water contrasts earth.
Being outside was always important, being on my bike, going to the park, walking or riding through the park on my days off. I enjoyed changes in the weather a brisk breeze in my face and the changing colors of the seasons. Visually my childhood looked like stony cliffs with dark ground, dense foliage speckled with Queen Anne’s lace. After spending multiple rainy summer days using my hands to dig my own tiny streams out of rocks, mud and left over puddles, I was given a little plot of land, which failed to produce since I couldn’t stop digging with my hands after planting seed. Even today I enjoy using my hands in the mud and rain; I hold a strange obsession with capturing the falling rain in massive rain barrels and digging drainage trenches. The process of using my hands in different ways has become part of how I use my hands as an artist.
Just as the rain had let up a bit, it was a pleasant surprise to find the Louise Nevelson (1911 – 2010) hand sculptures at the Tuileries of the Luxembourg Gardens. I knew little of them, but was drawn to their blackness the beauty of the reflection and their delicate balance on the massive rocks which they were contained. These hands invited the caress of living hands, I watched as others before me placed their hands in and around the beautiful blackness. Nevelson used her own hands and those of her assistant in making the pieces. As in much of Nevelson’s work this sculpture references a personal connection to the tenuous. There are four views of the helping hands of the assistant intertwined with that of the creator and that brings to mind past and present, guidance and direction. In another (there are five) the small hand is helplessly alone. The disconnected rounded of the limbs are reminiscent of Nevelson’s early phalluses. I applaud France for honoring the work of Nevelson who lived in New York until her death in 2010.
As I write to you from Philadelphia I am reminded of another French sculptor, August Rodin (1840 – 1917). The Rodin Museum with its immense Thinker sits on the parkway within it the display of hand sculptures of Rodin. No doubt when Nevelson conceived of these five works in 1996 was aware of the numbers of layman who would interact with the work in both Paris and Chicago.
Louise Bourgeois | Art21 | Preview from Season 1 of "Art in the Twenty-First Century" (2001)
Louise Bourgeois: welcoming hands for you in Paris Tuileries Gardenhttps://parisconnected.wordpress.com/2008/05/31/louise-bourgeois-welcoming-hands-for-you-in-paris-tuileries-garden/