Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells

EXHIBITION 27.02 – 02.08.15

In an artistic career spanning seven decades, Louise Bourgeois (1911, Paris – 2010, New York) created a unique body of work in a wide range of form, material and scale. In the 1940s, she pioneered the use of environmental installation for her work, and in the 1970s and 80s she would at times bring her sculpture into dialogue with theater and performance. Further, her work helped shift critical discourse to encompass psychoanalysis and feminism, theories that have since become prevalent in the artistic language of contemporary art today.  

Among the most innovative and challenging sculptural works in her extensive oeuvre are the "Cells", a series of architectural spaces that preoccupied her for nearly 20 years. Bourgeois's "Cells" are intensely psychological microcosms: situated within various enclosures, each is a multi-faceted collection of objects and sculptural forms arranged to evoke an atmosphere of emotional resonance. In almost theatrical scenes, these everyday objects, items of clothing or fabric, or furniture, along with singular sculptures by Bourgeois, create a charged barrier between the interior world of the artist and the exterior world that is the exhibition space.

As Bourgeois stated: "The 'Cells' represent different types of pain: the physical, the emotional and psychological, and the mental and intellectual. When does the emotional become physical? When does the physical become emotional? It's a circle going round and round. …Each 'Cell' deals with the pleasure of the voyeur, the thrill of looking and being looked at. The 'Cells' either attract or repulse each other. There is this urge to integrate, merge, or disintegrate." (Louise Bourgeois, 1991) 

In this exhibition, the first to concentrate on the "Cells" series, Haus der Kunst assembles the largest number of "Cells" presented to date. It also includes important works from previous decades that led to the development of this body of work. This comprehensive survey brings to light key facets of Bourgeois's thinking about space and memory, the body and architecture, and the conscious and the unconscious.

Following its presentation in Haus der Kunst, "Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells" will be on view in the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (25.09.15 – 07.02.16) as well as in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (18.03 – 04.09.16) and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (13.10.16 – 26.02.17).

With a special thanks to the Louise Bourgeois Trust and The Easton Foundation. With major funding by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and with generous support by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Further support provided by Cheim & Read, Hauser & Wirth and Kukje Gallery.

Cultural partner
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Louise Bourgeois, Spider, 1997 (detail), installation view (Bordeaux), Collection The Easton Foundation © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Frédéric Delpech
Louise Bourgeois, Spider, 1997 (detail), installation view (Bordeaux), Collection The Easton Foundation © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Frédéric Delpech
Louise Bourgeois, Articulated Lair, 1986 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lily Auchincloss; and of the Artist in honor of Deborah Wye (by exchange), 1993 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Articulated Lair, 1986 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lily Auchincloss; and of the Artist in honor of Deborah Wye (by exchange), 1993 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Cell II, 1991 (detail), Collection Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, photo Peter Bellamy © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015
Louise Bourgeois, Cell II, 1991 (detail), Collection Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, photo Peter Bellamy © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015
Louise Bourgeois, Cell III, 1991 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Glenstone Collection © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Cell III, 1991 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Glenstone Collection © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Red Room (Child), 1994 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Collection Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Red Room (Child), 1994 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Collection Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Cell I, 1991 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Cell I, 1991 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Cell I, 1991 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Cell I, 1991 (detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, In and Out, 1995, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, In and Out, 1995, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXIII (Portrait), 2000 (Detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXIII (Portrait), 2000 (Detail), installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXVI, 2003, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXVI, 2003, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Maximilian Geuter
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015 © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, I Give Everything Away, 2010, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, I Give Everything Away, 2010, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Cell (The Last Climb), 2008, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel
Louise Bourgeois, Cell (The Last Climb), 2008, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, photo Marion Vogel

Stretch your view


Stretch your view

Picture Gallery


Exhibition catalogue

Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells

With a foreword by Okwui Enwezor; with essays by Bart De Baere, Lynne Cooke, Kate Fowle, Jerry Gorovoy, Julienne Lorz, Griselda Pollock, Dionea Rocha Watt, Nancy Spector, and Ulrich Wilmes. MORE


Video

Louise Bourgeois: Exhibition film

Video on the exhibition "Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells", with Jerry Gorovoy and curator Julienne Lorz. MORE


Poster

Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells

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App

App "Louise Bourgeois"

App for iPhone and Android phones: "Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells". MORE


Essay

Julienne Lorz: From the Bell Jar to the Cage

In her essay, curator Julienne Lorz follows the trajectory of Louise Bourgeois's career, from her early works to the "Cells", a motif which the artist explored for more than two decades. MORE


In the press

Reviews on Louise Bourgeois

Below you find different press reactions to Louise Bourgeois and the exhibition at Haus der Kunst. MORE


Activity sheets, Worksheets

Worksheets on "Louise Bourgeois"

Here you find worksheets on the exhibition "Louise Bourgeois" for different school classes MORE


Poster

Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells

MORE


Video

Louise Bourgeois peeling an orange

In this video, Louise Bourgeois peels an orange, just as her father once did following a meal. MORE


Video

Tracey Emin on Louise Bourgeois

In this BBC clip, artist Tracey Emin speaks about Louise Bourgeois's art in two exhibitions in Edinburgh and asks her longtime assistant Jerry Gorovoy and curator Francis Morris about individual works. MORE