Letters - The turd way

Richard Cork gets portentous over Louise Bourgeois's work because she "displays two brown turds unaccountably sprouting nipples" (The Back Half, 17 November). She is, he enthuses, "never afraid to be scatological . . ." Never afraid? Weary coprophiliacs have been sated on innumerable artworks, including an Italian artist's canned merda and a German neo-expressionist's soiled underpants, for years now. Never afraid? The real temerity is not to have a turd in your oeuvre. Recall otherwise the long-dead Jean-Michel Basquiat, who audaciously affixed plastic doggy poo to a fridge door. An existential statement? Maybe. However, he habitually signed his work with the letters SOS. As Cork will attest, this stood for "same old shit".

Bob Ballard

This article first appeared in the 24 November 2003 issue of the New Statesman, The end of the affair