Use the links to find out more about Pierrette Bloch. Why is she described as using ‘poor materials’ and what do you think her materials lend to her subject matter?

To what extent would you say that this piece by Louise Bourgeois is a drawing? Make notes in your leaning log.

Pierrette Bloch, a painter and textile artist was born in 1928 in Switerland and died in France in 2017.  She was considered one of the most renowned French Post-War Abstract artists and as a progenitor of the Support/Surface group.  Bloch usually worked with humble materials and her signature works consist of lines of bound and curled horse hair horizontally-oriented mount on cheap paper and splash, dotted and marked with ink.

Bloch is known for working with ‘poor materials, and this is noted in the website review of her exhibition  …….”Pierrette Bloch’s work is characterized by the use of poor materials and reduced motifs. She works with collages, ink on paper, hardboard, rope and horsehair. Her favourite forms of reference are dots, lines and hyphens.   Ref 3

Definition of ‘poor art‘ from Tate website.  Ref 2  “Arte povera means literally ‘poor art’ but the word poor here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, bronze, or carved marble. Materials used by the artists included soil, rags and twigs. In using such throwaway materials they aimed to challenge and disrupt the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system.” 

In reference to poor materials both means of the word can be applied to Bloch’s work.  The materials used were humble – cheap and mundane, for her as a protest to the commercialised art world and she explored the materials beyond the usual ones of ‘standard art practise’ such as oils, canvas etc.  Her work was often completed with the use of materials such as hardboard, ink, horsehair and rope.  In her work she removed any intrinsic value that the material might possess (contrast this with the jewel studded skull of Hirst and its value between £50 -100 M); concentrating the viewers attention to the artwork itself.  She allowed her work to stand alone without the prop of expensive materials or even standard art materials.

Many of the materials Bloch uses are linear in nature and many of pieces are quite monochromatic in appearance: ink on paper, dark hair against white paper etc. this highlights the linear nature of the work.  All of these works are abstract in nature and she is often bracketed with the Abstract Expressionists in terms of art movements.  The materials used in her work support the subject matter of Bloch.  Her materials were humble and simple as well as enigmatic, calligraphic and at times bold (prevalent use of black).  The abstract rhythmic composition of her work scrutinises the boundaries of what is drawing and sculpture as well exploring emptiness, and spontaneity.

Pierrette Bloch – Images: Ref 5


To what extent would you say that this piece by Louise Bourgeois is a drawing? Make notes in your leaning log.

Louise Bourgeois – Spider

To what extent would you say that this piece by Louise Bourgeois is a drawing? Make notes in your leaning log.

Louise Bourgeois – Spider, 1995, Mixed Media

Below is the website summary for this work.

“Bourgeois made many sculptures of spiders. She related the idea of this creature with motherhood. In particular, she connected the spider with her own mother who was a needlewoman and manager of the family’s tapestry restoration business. The spider weaves a world from its own body, repairs its web and protects its young. Despite these caring associations, Bourgeois had an ambiguous view of maternity. The mother figure in her world view has the capacity to be ferocious and powerful as well as tender and nurturing. Although the sculpture features a marble egg, held protectively in the body of the spider, its large scale and muscular legs create a threatening presence.” Ref 1

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Before commencing in particular this section of this course I would have said that this work by Bourgeois was NOT a drawing, however, I have now come to realise that drawings do not have to only exist on paper, in 2-dimensions and produced by a pencil or similar.

I now consider drawing an exploration; the output of this can take any form, a pencil image on a sheet of paper, an origami construction, a sculpture an so on!  The concept of a drawing being two dimensional is now redundant and a drawing can now be a 3- and even 4-dimensional work (a sculpture or video / sound).

Drawing is about producing a visual or sound representation of an idea, a concept either for yourself or for additional viewers.

In the Spider, Bourgeois uses the representation of a spider to symbolise several concepts such as motherhood, protection and in particular her own mother a needlewoman and anger of a tapestry business.  The spider has the ability to weave, to create and protect and nurture as well as defend its offspring fiercely.

In this work Bourgeois’s spider protects an egg but due to its large size looms threateningly over the viewer.  Its dark, black surface further instilling the threat.  In addition the numerous limbs which outnumber our own threaten to engulf us.

References & Bibliography                                            [websites accessed 26th Feb 2018]

Ref 1 Bourgeois, Louise ; (1995), Spider, [mixed media], National Galleries of Scotland and Tate
Ref 2
Ref 3

the link given in course notes is incorrect, the correct link is noted below

Ref 4
Ref 5                 photo credits