Video of the Week... Louise Bourgeois, the woman who inspired Modern Art

This weekend, the art world lost two figures whose passion and individual approaches mean they'll remain an ongoing inspiration to art lovers and collectors around the globe...

The first was Dennis Hopper. Although more famous for his often stormy Hollywood career and wild antics (both off-screen and on), Hopper also built-up a respectable reputation as a photographer, and a formidable reputation as a collector.

Hopper's art collecting adventure began in the 1950s, during which time the young actor found that "bumming around art galleries" was his alternative to surfing or tennis.

At the same time, Hopper befriended various artists and developed his own talents as a photographer - famous subjects in his work include Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. (You can see a fascinating video of Hopper describing his collection here.)

"My idea of collecting is not going and buying bankable names, but buying people that I believe really are contributing something to my artistic life" - Dennis Hopper

The other prominent figure was Louise Bourgeois, who died of a heart attack last Monday (May 21), aged 98.

The French-American artist and sculptor is the believed founder of "confessional art" and major inspiration on today's modern artists including Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin.

However, while some critics often question whether the diamond skulls and suchlike of Hirst, Emin et al actually "mean anything," Bourgeois's works easily see-off any such doubts.

Louise Bourgeois's 1999 Maman sculpture, resembling a spider. Maman is
French for "Mommy"

On the surface, her works and paintings display many kinds of skill and inventiveness. Yet, beneath their surfaces, is also a wealth of meaning, confession and depth.

Life-affirming themes like sex and jealousy were often present in Bourgeois's works, which ranged from paintings to the use of found objects like old cloths, mirrors or old bits of machinery.

"Art is a guarantee of sanity. That is the most important thing I have said" - Louise Bourgeois

In her works, dating back to the 1930s, are strong opinions, feminist ideas and explorations of her own feelings and experiences. Everything, according to Bourgeois herself, was inspired by the earliest years of her life.

Such inspirations - including her father's affair with Louise's childhood English tutor - can be found throughout her work, in which giant spiders, entwined bodies and genitalia have been prominent.

To those familiar with the much-publicised confessional modern artworks of Tracy Emin, the influence of Bourgeois will be obvious.

Emin is among various artists interviewed by the BBC's art expert Alan Yentob in our Video of the Week (see above), made while Bourgeois was still alive, about the ongoing influence and impact of her incredible work.


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