Pink Fur and Vulvas


Cartagena, Colombia (Photo: Matt Muller)


Having written my first blog post in months yesterday, I found myself last night, back on my art adventures, and with another post brewing.

On tour with a British orchestra, in transit in Miami.

I knew there was a Louise Bourgeois Exhibition at ICAMiami and had therefore tried to fly twenty-four hours earlier, but on this occasion, it wasn’t to be. 

Landing in Miami at 15:30, clearing US Customs (rarely a quick business) and getting to our hotel, I had assumed that getting into Miami city before the ICA shut was going to be a tall order, and to save the constant clock watching and pressure there with, I had resigned myself to it not happening.

So when I arrived in my room after the ten-hour flight and actually did the research on where I was, where the ICA was, and what time it shut, I cannot describe the level of delight when I discovered the ICA was 20 minutes away and I had 1hr 50 minutes before it shut!

Ripping open my suitcase to find more suitable attire for the perfect barmy evening, throwing a quick text, in my excitement, to base (home), there was an immaculately timed yellow cab at the door, just dropping off fellow travellers.

The journey into Miami isn’t glamourous, but the fact that a mere 25 minutes after leaving my room I was in the ICA totally made up for that!


The centre of Louise Bourgeois’ work in this exhibition is 4 head sculptures made of pink fur.



It is her anatomical sculptures that are my inspiration for working in this medium, and with the prospect of three weeks clear to work on this in my new studio when I get back to the UK, this was a timely visit.


Louise Bourgeois was given a pink fur coat by the gallerist Robert Miller in the 1990’s. 

I believe this shot is taken from the amazing film ‘The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine’ 

She subsequently cut up and made into seven stuffed heads. Louise wrote in 2008 (aged 96), of turning her clothes and linen from her past life into artworks which will live on as her legacy, ‘We must talk about the passivity and activity of the coming and going of clothes in one’s life. When I come upon a piece of clothing you wonder, who was I trying to seduce by wearing that? Or you open your closet and you are confronted with so many different roles, smells, social situations.’

For me, these four heads, in this lurid almost child-like fabric, speak of her relationship with the men in her life. 

The fabric a gift from a man, the coat unlikely worn without awareness to the heads it would turn. While the surface, quite literally shows softness, affection, fur is a fabric that encourages physical contact, a hug, a stroke, a touch. What shows in the expressions on these faces is representative of what Louise saw in men beneath the surface of everyday life and fickle relationships.

I see disappointment, dismissal, seriousness. Jest, mirth, mocking. Misery and anger and scepticism in a clearly raised questioning eyebrow. 

Is Louise seeing these as expressions she saw directed (probably veiled) at her, or her own emotions she wanted the men that undoubtedly made her life as an artist a long hard journey (such an  incredible feat of hard work to get noticed, taken seriously, believed in, admired, respected) to understand?

Either way, there is no doubt that these figures, true to style, carry a wealth of emotion within them.  


The highlights of the exhibition for me though was another version of The Couple. 

Louise Bourgeois – Couple (2002)


This one made in 2002 (Six years before the polished aluminum iteration in MassMOCA), is a fabric sculpture, suspended as many of the couple sculptures are, representing the precarity and fragility of life and relationships. But what I love about this one is the sense of stability between the man and woman. They are holding tightly to each other, in a soft but firm embrace. The man has his flaccid penis exposed, so perhaps the work lacks the sexual tension often present in her work. The female figure (I find it safe to assume it is a representation of her) is standing on the male figure’s feet, him giving her assurance and support (or could she be pinning him down?), and their faces are peaceful and happy. I saw this as a relatively rare piece in her enormous body of work.


Louise Bourgeois – Couple (2002)





But for now, it was time to get back to being on tour. A bowl of Ceviche, an entire loaf of sourdough (only in America!) and more cheese than any salad ever saw in the UK (it was delicious!), and I was back at the airport hotel.

Almost like it had never happened.




2 responses to “Pink Fur and Vulvas”

  1. Don’t know about barmy – what with the exhibition and the tasty supper it sounds like a perfectly sensible way to spend an evening… Love that photo of Jamaica from the plane – great composition too (or did that come later?)

    Sent from my iPod

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] already told you about my trip to Miami and Cartagena in Pink Fur and Vulvas, so I guess chronological makes sense, even if it does remind me that I’m 10 months behind in […]


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