Louise Bourgeois IN AND OUT, 1995 (detail) Metal, glass, plaster, fabric and plastic Cell: 205.7 x 210.8 x 210.8 cm Plastic: 195 x 170 x 290 cm Collection The Easton Foundation Photo: Christopher Burke © The Easton Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015

Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells

Exhibition, from

This exhibition is closed.


Exhibition overview

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 twenty 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, 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).

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.

Watch the video
Louise Bourgeois - Peels a Tangerine


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