Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Returning Traveler's Miscellany. . . Art and What I Wore, There and At Home


A few more photos from that Women House exhibition I saw in Paris week before last --  these top two, of smaller sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, exploring the relationship between woman and house, women and home. . .
 And then these photos of one of her monumental, iconic Spiders, fascinatingly different in this context than others I have seen -- the one I'm most familiar with being the one outside Ottawa's National Gallery, that spider, titled Maman,  an impressive (and potentially terrifying) 30 feet high.

Some of you may want to scurry past these photos with your eyes covered. . .
 scroll to the bottom of the page quickly
 in that case, and I'll see if you can spot my reflection in the museum mirror. . .


 There you are, safely out of that Arachnophobe's nightmare. . . .

Can you see me in the mirrored door, below, trying to catch a Selfie? There are very few photos of me from this trip, to be honest. Certainly, there wasn't much need to catch the variety I managed from my carry-on wardrobe. Photos would only have shown either this classic dark coat (with jeans, or black pants, or over a dark, knit, knee-length pencil skirt) or the black Uniqlo down jacket I wore for a more casual look.
 You can see the Uniqlo jacket here, worn with my black sneakers, and that same post will also show you the green boots that gave me a break from my metallic oxfords. In fact, I must say that I didn't really get bored with my carry-on wardrobe (which I checked, by the way, for the plane -- but was still very pleased to be able to heft by myself onto trains, and to pull along to hotels, for the solo part of my trip). Quite honestly, variety is becoming increasingly less important to me in my dress; not sure if that's due to retirement or age or concern about the environment. Nor am I sure if this desire for simplicity will last, but I'm making the most (the least?!) of it while it lasts. . .

That's not to say that I wasn't glad to get home to the rest of my closet, nor does it mean I was completely impervious to the siren call of the post-Christmas sales.  Very considered, and in no rush at all to add new pieces, but I've been missing a good sweater dress for a few years now, and this one was on sale at an independent shop I like to support, just up the street.
 This would be a mite bulky for a carry-on wardrobe, but I have to say that in the weather we're having right now, I could happily wear it every day of the week. Might be getting close to that this week, truth be told. . . Undergarments, tights, dress, shoes, Dressed! And it's cosy as well. . .
 A close-up of the knit fabric so that you can see all the flecks of colour in that charcoal yarn. . .
Do you know Louise Bourgeois's work? Have you ever seen any of her giant spiders? Or perhaps you've seen some of her works exploring themes of family and home, tension-filled installations. . . (we saw a stunning exhibition in Paris about ten years ago, at the Pompidou, a show organised in collaboration with London's Tate Modern. I need to search out my notes from that in my box of travel journals. . . )
And on a lighter note, were you able to find any good buys in the post-Christmas sales? Or, perhaps even better, were you able to avoid them all? 

38 comments:

  1. I love Louise Bourgeois's spiders, but I can't tell you where I've seen them, just that I have. Yes, your photos capture that feeling, of awe and beauty and majesty, and just a frisson of fear. Yes I am terrified of spiders IRL, and yet I can love their artistic representation, and even their role in our world. I used to have a set of spider brooches, that were a little lifelike and at the same time a little abstract. I wonder what happened to them?

    Your new coat looks warm, and cozy and I completely get wanting to wear the same thing over and over. I too seem to be far less interested in variety, but I want to find that perfect intersection of having things I want to live in and with, for whatever circumstances life throws my way.

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    1. I really did mean to say dress. My head has been lost somewhere of late. I hope to find it soon.

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    2. (I knew you meant dress ;-)
      Aren't they magnificent, the spiders? And of course, they draw some of their power from the fear they evoke. . .

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  2. I find the small sculpture depiciting the relationship between woman and home interesting. May be my perspective but I can't help but feel she appears somewhat trapped! :) The spider sculpture is quite spectacular ... definitely needs space to appreciate it. I wouldn't fancy standing underneath it though.
    Your new knitted dress looks great on you. It's made me realise I haven't worn one yet this winter and they're so easy to wear as well as cosy. I've almost been wearing a uniform of shades of grey and black.Just so easy and requires very little thought :) It does mean other clothes are somewhat neglected maybe.
    Time for one of Sue's "curating my closet" sessions I think!

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    1. Yes, that small sculpture sums up so much of what the exposition's female/feminist artists tried to express, although some also/simultaneously celebrated the notion of home or the arts/crafts associated with it. Many, women women have clearly found their relationship with "House" or "Home" a confining one.
      It's been a few years since I've had a good sweater dress, and this one, honestly, is just a bit too big to be perfect (plus no pockets!!), but oh, for so many winter days -- just what I want!
      (and don't you think Sue should shop out her services? ;-)

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  3. My daughter would be terrified of that spider - she is quite the arachnophobe. I love your new sweater dress. Sweater dresses are my go-to this time of year - so easy as you say - undergarments, tights, dress, shoes, and maybe a scarf and you are dressed. It's the minimalist's dream outfit. I've managed to skip the after-Christmas sales but found a pair of city walkers (pants) on the Athleta online site that were marked down so signifcantly that I could not ignore it. Especially since I already owned a pair of the same and have worn them so much that I needed a new pair. Stay well!

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    1. Sorry, I forgot to sign - slf.

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    2. Good for you, scoring a pair of pants you knew you needed. Too often, by the time I can stand to enter stores again after Christmas, everything good is gone. . .

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  4. I love that sweater dress, Frances. With tights and oxfords... very academic chic... which is the clever version of the "sexy secretary" look. Gad. Hate that term.
    It's weird that I love that spider sculpture, and her sister outside the National Gallery here in Ottawa, so much. Given that spiders are not my favourite living things.
    I also love the Louise Bourgeois sculptures. They remind me of that Dorothy Livesay poem "The Unquiet Bed"... "The woman I am is not what you see/ I'm not just bones and crockery." I had to look that up to see if I had it right. I used to love Dorothy Livesay back in the seventies in university. Seems she stuck with me. Lots of "loves" in the comment. Ha.
    P.S. Thanks, Rosie:)

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    1. It's true, isn't it -- academic chic, the clever version of the "sexy secretary" -- and I hate the term as well. "Sexy librarian" is another one. I've got a certain fondness for "bluestocking chic" as well, although "chic" is a stretch there, an oxymoron if ever there was one.
      Yes, I know that Livesay poem well. She was wonderful -- what a life! such commitment, such fire!

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  5. I love the spider - it's beautiful! And the room is magnificent. Your new dress is wonderful! I decided not to be afraid of spiders when my older son was born, because I didn't want him to be afraid of anything. Running over to your book list now.

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    1. Brava for your decision to put your fear of spiders aside for the benefit of your son. That was my approach as well, as best I could manage it. Tried to model curiosity and wonder (although sometimes there might have been an initial "eek!" ;-)

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  6. I love your new sweater dress but hate Louise B spider sculptures. The last one I saw was outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Ugh! Welcome home. Mary

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    1. I envy your visit to the Bilbao Guggenheim -- it's on my wish list. Curious to know if you hate these sculptures because they're spiders? because of their scale? because you find them ill-executed or simply not suitable subjects?

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    2. Because they're spiders! I do see a certain beauty and elegance in those small bodied long legged " eyelash " spiders that I see around the house sometimes. I imagine they might have the personality of Charlotte from the children's novel. Larger fast moving ones scare me. If I could look for long enough would concede there is a beauty in Louise B ones. The setting of the ones you saw was quite lovely and an interesting contrast to the spider form. Mary

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    3. Okay, fair enough. Arachnophobia strikes again. ;-)

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  7. The Woman and House sculptures are very expressive. I like the coloured flecks in your sweater dress. You could accessorize with so many colours. Grey is definitely the colour this year!

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    1. It's true -- the dress's flecks make very good suggestions about how to accessorize.

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  8. I LOVE her spiders! There was a small exhibition of her work at the Heide Museum in Melbourne a few years back - some of her textile work was just wonderful (and there was a spider).

    I haven't been buying any clothes at all given my current employment status but I am thoroughly sick of our hot weather (the obverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere) and all my summer clothes!

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    1. Your summer goes for so long, doesn't it? And it's much hotter than I'm used to here, so I would imagine much more limiting as to what clothes can be tolerated.
      I can't imagine what would be involved in shipping some of her larger spiders for exhibitions (you've made me think of one travelling all the way to Melbourne) -- aren't we lucky, these days, that museums put these exhibitions on?

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  9. We saw the giant spider outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao last October. Wonderfully terrifying. Mamma does stop you in your tracks.
    I love your sweater dress. I have not worn one in years. I shall have to search. Actually I haven’t worn a dress in years. Leggings and a tunic top is me dressed up.
    Ali

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    1. Hmmm, my response disappeared -- I wonder what's up with that?! Said I envied you the Bilbao Guggenheim, which we were so close to but never managed, three or four years ago.
      As for the sweater dress: leggings and tunic top; tights and dress. . . just sayin' ;-)

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  10. I love your sweater dress-coloured specks are so lovely
    Sweater dresses are the staple of my winter wardrobe,from the morning to the evening (although,this winter is extraordinary warm,so I didn't wear them all the time,as usual)-even for travel
    Unfortuanately,I haven't seen LB work in real life. Her spiders are magnificent( I'm not afraid of spiders -although some of ordinry spider bites can be nasty- except the "Black widow",the very poisonous Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) are magnificent. Your timing was perfect for this exibition
    Dottoressa

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    1. Yay! I'm in good company with my sweater dress, then. I bet you're enjoying the warmer weather this year, though. . . Ours is as well, but it's so very wet and grey. Comfort is needed.
      My timing was so good -- it's wonderful when you get to be in the same place with art you admire, right? (not so good when you're in the same place as Latrodectus tredecimguttatus -- very impressed by your Latin, thank you ;-)

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  11. Nice to catch up on Blogger again, Frances. I love the photos of the giant spider. What a gorgeous backdrop, too.

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    1. Yes, I'm happy to find you again as well! Isn't that backdrop stunning? and it gives such an interesting context to the spider. . .

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  12. The dress is a brilliant buy...its lovely on you and looks so cozy for these chilly days. Variety of clothing has lost its lustre for me as well..I chalk it up to retirement and the easy and simple approach to getting dressed...
    That spider is quite a statement piece...one of my phobias are spiders so I am not too sure that I would spend much time in its company!

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    1. I have to admit I wore that dress three days last week! ;-)
      You might prefer the spider's cousin Maman, in front of the National Gallery in Ottawa, as it's outside, a better place for spiders arguably ;-)

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  13. I enjoyed the spiders in their gilded setting, and I like our dress, can imagine how good it feels. I have bought nothing. I know I could use summer trousers (not jeans) so will wait to see what's around.

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    1. You've been so disciplined in your shopping. It's a good feeling, I imagine (and am beginning to experience) to know that you've got what you need right in your closet -- and to enjoy using what you have without feeling deprived, without wanting more.

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  14. I first saw her sculpture in Ottawa, that huge frighteningly beautiful spider. Perhaps because it was outside and the groupings of spiders I saw later (in San Francisco I think) were inside, they seemed more "domesticated", not so frightening. But that may have been because I was not taken by surprise this time!

    Variety in clothing is less important to me than fabric and cut; fewer, better quality pieces allow me to regularly update with new additions.

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    1. That's a really interesting comparison. I think, for me, the outside setting in Ottawa made Maman less frightening because there is a sense of space to back away from her and more possible visual distractions, perhaps. The way this one filled that room in Paris. . . . I've never seen groupings of her spiders; that would be fascinating.
      I'm working toward a closet of the fewer, better quality pieces, which may be why I'm less concerned about variety. (do you still have that wonderful "furry" top/sweater? Orange, I think?)

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    2. Recycled it a while ago. Loved it though!

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  15. Hello! I wrote a bit about Bourgeois and her spiders in an article on . . . Simone Rocha, Irish designer, for Selvedge, if I remember correctly. When I lived in Ottawa for 6 years I loved going to the national gallery; thank you for the memory!

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    1. You've just sent me to the Vancouver Public Library website to check if they keep a subscription to Selvedge, and I can't believe the answer is negative. I'm going to have to go check, in person. That's a collectible magazine if ever there was one, and I'd love to read your article. (nice to see you here ;-)

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  16. An arresting reversal of scale with the spiders exhibition. Perhaps it mimics how spiders indoors appear to us in terms of emotional impact when you find one in the shower!
    Ahhh, the bliss of sweater dresses. Your one is so versatile, which is an important word with the more careful attitude to money that comes with retirement and the fatigue of buying.
    The sales started with us before Christmas, as retailers have been struggling. Sadly no bargains but I spent a lot because of stocking up on necessary replacements - ankle boots, jeans, cosmetics - given that I'm now some distance from any choice of shops (yes, I've made the move). Now trying to save money ahead of a Bordeaux trip this spring.

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    1. You're there! So the changes begin. What an exciting (and challenging) move. Stocking up is a good idea -- have you a train station nearby, and if so, how far/long to the nearest sizable city?

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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