Preserving the legacy of Louise Bourgeois
FOUNDATIONS, ESTATES, AND ARCHIVES ARE A DEEPLY IMPORTANT FACET OF THE WORLD’S ARTISTIC LEGACY
In the 1980s, Louise Bourgeois established The Easton Foundation, an artist endowed non-profit and charitable organization. Upon her death in 2010, at the age of 98, Bourgeois bequeathed her home and an adjacent townhouse to become the Foundation’s center, and donated a substantial collection of her art to its holdings.
The Easton Foundation is now dedicated to preserving Bourgeois’s legacy. Serving to promote the scholarship and awareness of Bourgeois’s life and art, the Foundation aims to cultivate new interpretations of her work while providing a deeper understanding of her artistic process and creative milieu. As part of this mission, the Foundation has established the Louise Bourgeois Archive, a study center and residency for curators and scholars, as well as a sculpture garden and a small exhibition space presenting works from the collection.
OUR TEAM SPECIALIZES IN THE STEWARDSHIP OF ARTISTS LEGACIES – DIGITIZATION, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, ACCESS, AND METADATA
Bourgeois’s archives comprise more than a century’s worth of personal writings, letters, family photographs, exhibition announcements, diaries, and thousands of pieces of analog and electronic media – including film, video, and sound recordings. These materials offer unique insight to Bourgeois’s various artistic motivations and the ways in which they were manifested in her art. Her interest in psychoanalysis, experimentation with material and form, and physical and emotional response to her environment were extensively detailed. Letters and documents regarding exhibitions, galleries, and the making and showing of artworks trace the trajectory of Bourgeois’s exceptional career.
Like most artist endowed foundations, the unstable media in Bourgeois’s archive was lacking a comprehensive plan for preservation. Without a strategic preservation plan, the history and knowledge contained in the thousands of pieces of obsolete media risked being lost forever. For analog audiovisual materials, most experts consider there to be a 15-20 year doomsday clock that is running out for digitization. This being said, digitization is expensive, so before embarking on a large scale project to stabilize media one needs to have a clear and coherent strategy in place. What will be digitized and why? Is there likely to be duplication and redundancy in the archive? Who is your trusted vendor, what will it cost, what are the logistics, and how will you check and verify the quality of their work?