from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

On view September 6, 2022 – December 3, 2022

Louise Bourgeois
BED #2, 1997
Red and blue aquatint, drypoint, engraving on paper
25 x 31 1/8″; 63.5 x 79 cm
© The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, Photo: Christopher Burke

USC Fisher Museum of Art Announces the Presentation of

Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem?,

from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

This traveling exhibition explores the prolific drawing and writing practice of Louise Bourgeois with more that 100 works from the 1940s to the early 2000s

On view September 6, 2022, through December 3, 2022

USC Fisher Museum of Art is proud to announce the presentation of Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem?, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation this fall.

The exhibition presents 145 works with a focus on prints, textiles, and a series of eight holograms, ranging in date from the 1940s to the early 2000s. These works build on the raw emotional terrain of Bourgeois’ practice, and explore feelings of isolation, anger, and fear through the recurring depiction of the body, childhood, family, architecture, and the passage of time.

“What is the shape of this problem?” is a question presented on the opening page of a series of nine letterpress diptychs of image and text produced by Bourgeois in 1999 and in many ways, it is a poignant frame for this exhibition. This question, like much of the text used in her prints, positions these works within Bourgeois’ multi- layered practice of identifying and bravely exploring her personal history, her creative process, and her mental health. These words boldly amplify the parallel between suffering and her art making, suggesting that abstract emotions can, and should, be given form. It is this acknowledgment that provides the balance of her creative practice and life, an entwined dependence expressing Bourgeois’ emotional and physical intelligence.

Bourgeois described her relationship to making art as one of survival and dependence. She openly acknowledged her vulnerability because it gave her purpose, and the work born from that purpose gave form to her kind of suffering. In relation to this condition of living and working Bourgeois aptly coined the now famous phrase:

“Art is a guarantee of sanity.”

Ever committed to innovation and experimentation, Bourgeois seized the opportunity to work with cutting edge fine art printer Mixografia. With their roots in the Mexico City art scene, L.A.-based Mixografia made waves by expanding the possibilities of printmaking by incorporating dimensionality and relief into a traditionally two-dimensional medium, producing prints using handmade cotton paper and specialized printing equipment designed and built in-house. For this exhibition, the USC Fisher Museum of Art is creating a gallery guide with Mixografia.

Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of This Problem? is organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation and the Esker Foundation. It is curated by Naomi Potter, Director/Chief Curator, Esker Foundation, Calgary, Canada. The exhibition was first presented at the Esker Foundation where it ran from January 23, 2021, through June 27, 2021, followed by a presentation at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University from August 31, 2021, through December 2, 2021.

Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris; d. 2010, New York) is among the most influential artists of the late 20th century. Bourgeois initially studied mathematics at the Sorbonne, before studying art at institutions including the École des Beaux-Arts, and the École du Louvre. In 1938, she moved to New York where she would live and work until her death. Bourgeois’ distinguished career included major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1982); the Frankfurter Kunstverein (1989); the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2001); and a career retrospective organized by the Tate Modern, London and the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2007-8). Bourgeois was named Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French minister of culture in 1983. In 1991, she received the French Grand Prix National de Sculpture, as well as the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center in Washington D.C. Other accolades include the U.S. National Medal of the Arts (1997), and the French Legion of Honor Medal (2008).

About Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation

At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon contemporary art gallery, evolving into a lifelong avocation as collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988.  Today, the collection exceeds 14,000 works and includes many of today’s most important contemporary artists. It has grown to be one of the country’s largest private print collections. He generously lends work from his collection to qualified institutions. The Foundation has organized over 110 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 150 museums. Mr. Schnitzer is also President of Harsch Investment Properties, a privately-owned real estate investment company based in Portland, Oregon, owning and managing office, multi-tenant industrial, multi-family and retail properties in six western states.

The Foundation was established in 1997 as a non-profit organization to manage the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, provide supplemental funding for education and outreach in conjunction with related exhibitions, and publish scholarly texts.

About USC Fisher Museum of Art

Founded in 1939 by Elizabeth Holmes Fisher and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the museum houses a permanent collection of some 3,000 objects including 19th century American landscapes; 16th and 17th century Northern European paintings; 18th century British portraiture; and 19th century French Barbizon paintings, as well as 20th century works on paper, paintings and sculpture and features exhibitions of local, international, and emerging artists.

Located on the USC Campus in the heart of Los Angeles, the museum is part of an extraordinary complex of Exposition Park museums including the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center, and the California African American Museum.



Homepage banner image credit:

Louise Bourgeois with her sculptures, QUARANTANIA III and BROTHER & SISTER, in NYC in 1979. 

© The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, Photo: Eeva Inkeri