Artworks
Louise Bourgeois
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It’s the return of Fillette, everyone’s favorite phallic sculpture, this time immortalized in Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of the sculptress herself!

Mapplethorpe described Bourgeois as “very, uh…surreal.” Okay. To me, Louise just looks like a dirty old lady having a chortle over a naughty joke, which is tucked under her arm for the world to see.

However, not everyone thought this picture was a barrel of laughs. In 1982, the Met Museum censored the portrait, saying it was too “pornographic.” Lighten up, prudes! 1982 sounds like a lame year for artwork with graphic content. They cropped out the penis and kept Louise’s laughing face…but this left everyone wondering what exactly the joke was!

Bourgeois didn’t really take Fillette along because she wanted to ruffle feathers. In fact, she took it along for a whole other reason. When she was asked to pose for Mapplethorpe, Louise thought it was going to be a “catastrophe." So she decided to take a tiny piece of luggage along: enter Fillette (not literally, perverts!!). Fillette, which literally means “little girl” in French, was meant to provide Louise some ease during the photo-shoot, who said she would get “comfort from holding and rocking the piece." Much like a child would carry around a doll or a security blanket. All great excuses for when someone finds that secret stash in your nightstand. Louise also said she grins in the photo because she knew that people were just going to say, “Everything Louise does is erotic." But in Louise’s own opinion, the work is only erotic if you look at it that way. Let’s harken back to the time when she told us what she thought Fillette actually symbolized: the delicacy of male parts. And because delicacy is associated with femininity, Louise hints that the phallus in fact, possesses rather feminine traits. Take that gender norms! 

Overall, one can conclude that this is probably one of the coolest artistic collaborations in art history. Both the artists continually made work that was controversial and here’s the two of them keepin’ it real once again.