Now, Now, Louison

Now, Now, Louison

by Jean Frémon, Cole Swensen

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Overview

Financial Times Book of the Year

The extraordinary artist, the spider woman, the intellectual, the rebel, the sly enchantress, and the “good girl” sing together in this exuberant, lithe text beautifully translated by Cole Swensen.
        This brilliant portrait of the renowned artist Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) shows a woman who was devoted to her art and whose life was also that of her century. The art world’s grande dame and its shameless old lady, spinning personal history into works of profound strangeness, speaks with her characteristic insolence and wit, through a most discreet, masterful writer. From her childhood in France to her exile and adult life in America, to her death, this phosphorescent novella describes Bourgeois’s inner life as only one artist regarding another can.
        Included as an afterword is Frémon’s essay about his own “portrait writing” and how he came to know and work with Louise Bourgeois.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

05/06/2019

Frémon, an art historian and gallerist, delivers an unusual, petite book that attempts to portray the inner life of artist Louise Bourgeois, whom Frémon worked with. The text ranges loosely between the first and second person in short paragraphs that depict various sequences of Bourgeois’s life, with little background information to explain who the characters are. This narrative collage includes several entries in a spider compendium; the early, traumatizing death of Bourgeois’s mother; the philandering of her father, Louis; Bourgeois’s overseas trip to America to get away from her family; her love of mathematics; her dietary habits in old age; the loneliness that followed the death of her husband; her playtime antics in childhood; and untranslated French song excerpts. Most intriguingly, Bourgeois acquires a studio in Brooklyn and starts producing the spider sculptures for which she became known. Throughout, Frémon takes “great liberties with reality.” There are moments of real beauty and insight, but the book too often gets lost in the web of its telling. Fans of Bourgeois will likely find themselves wanting more about her; fans of unconventional biographical portraits may wish this book dug deeper. (Mar.)

The A.V. Club

The first to commission Bourgeois’ work, for a European exhibition in 1985, writer and gallerist Jean Frémon meditates on the spirit of the iconoclastic artist, best known for her oversized sculptures of spiders, rather than presenting a straight biography.

NPR

With Now, Now, Louison, Jean Frémon delivers a special pleasure — he invites us into Louise Bourgeois' head as she creates. In so doing, Frémon opens up our understanding of both the artist and her art.

The Nation

Frémon’s style is poetic and often poignant. There’s a rhythm and internal logic to the flow of the book that’s all the more impressive because of its purposeful fragmentation. The text loops back on certain subjects and motifs, the way humans do in their minds. The most important of these, unsurprisingly, is art. Frémon clearly understands how much creating art informed Bourgeois’s life, and his writing about her work is often his most insightful. 

Financial Times

Poet and curator Frémon gives voice to one of the outstanding artists of the 20th century, Louise Bourgeois, in a written portrait that is as tender as it is catty and cantankerous. Strands of memory unfurl—from Bourgeois’ childhood in France to her self-imposed exile in the US—alongside her thoughts on beauty and the purpose of art.

John Domini - The Washington Post

A cat’s cradle woven from shreds of [Louise Bourgeois's] biography, it nonetheless can snare the heart.

Libération

The life of Louise Bourgeois is rendered in ellipses, quick brush strokes, and a mix of associations of ideas and of sensations waltzing with chronology. A
highly original, sensitive text.

Brigette Manion - Asymptote Journal

Taking as its lead both Bourgeois’s voice and creative practice, this is a book that eschews excessive biographical detail to convey something closer to life, 'a kind of portrait' captured through the combined artistry of writer and translator.

Paul Auster

Jean Frémon is a wholly singular artist, a writer who lives in the radiant zone where poetry, philosophy, and storytelling meet.

Financial Times

Poet and curator Frémon gives voice to one of the outstanding artists of the 20th century, Louise Bourgeois, in a written portrait that is as tender as it is catty and cantankerous. Strands of memory unfurl—from Bourgeois’ childhood in France to her self-imposed exile in the US—alongside her thoughts on beauty and the purpose of art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811228534
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
File size: 1 MB

Customer Reviews