born 1911

louise bourgeois In the midst of a nationally publicized scandal regarding the Corcoran Gallery of Art's decision to cancel a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective, ARTnews published an article entitled "What Is Pornography?" that featured reactions to the controversy from twenty-two prominent artists, museum directors, and politicians. Sculptor Louise Bourgeois, whose work frequently engages questions of sexuality, was among the respondents. "Pornography serves the outrage of the special interests. This [argument over Mapplethorpe's work] is politics and has nothing to do with art," declared Bourgeois. Mapplethorpe's wry 1982 portrait of Bourgeois holding her latex sculpture Fillette accompanied the article. Bourgeois's mischievous smile and the manner in which she carries the aggressively phallic Fillette—a French term that refers to a young and inexperienced girl—conveys the ironic sense of humor that is often at the heart of Bourgeois's work.

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989)
Gelatin silver print, 1982
Published summer 1989
The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe
©1982 The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe.
Used with permission

Portrait of the Art World: A Century of ARTnews Photographs
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution