Louise Bourgeois' Spider
The Architecture of Art-Writing
Known for her commentary on the issue of temporality in art, Bal argues that art must be understood in relationship to the present time of viewing as opposed to the less-immediate contexts of what has preceded the viewing, such as the historical past of influences and art movements, biography and interpretation. In ten short chapters, or "takes," Bal demonstrates that the closer the engagement with the work of art, the more adequate the result of the analysis. She also confronts issues of biography and autobiography—key themes in Bourgeois's work—and evaluates the consequences of "ahistorical" experiences for art criticism, drawing on diverse sources such as Bernini and Benjamin, Homer and Eisenstein.
This short, beautiful book offers both a theoretical model for analyzing art "out of context" and a meditation on a key work by one of the most engaging artists of our era.
“No critic that I’ve read . . . has embraced Bourgeois’s <I>Spider<I> more closely than Bal, who gets behind her work, all around it, and through it, exhausting all permutations. Her essay is intellectual adventuring into a dense thicket of what’s possible, when knowable unknowns are forced into being known and secrets induced to tattle on themselves. Tag along with her, try to keep up, forewarned that from where she is headed there may be no way back.”
2. Description Shipwrecked
3. Narrative and Its Discontents
4. Refocusing Attention
5. Cement of Cellular Stories
6. Tales of Mother Spider
7. Fragmented Bodies
8. Beckoning Bernini
9. Passages through Modern Sculpture
10. Hyperbole as Wink