The Last Two Decades in the Life of Louise Bourgeois at Schinkel Pavillion

April 18, 2018

There are very few sculptresses whose opuses have gained such a fame and recognition. Without the doubt, Louise Bourgeois is one of them, so it is not strange that various art institutions around the world release fresh and exciting insights of certain aspects of her four-decades-long artistic practice.

The Schinkel Pavillon, a Berlin-based center focused on contemporary art production in a domain of media art, sculpture, and installation has decided to organize an exhibition titled Louise Bourgeois: The Empty House. Dedicated to the artist’s fascination with the form of sacks, this show intends to examine this important and peculiar motif in order to emphasize the later works from the 2000s until her death in 2010.

Untitled, 2007
Louise Bourgeois - Untitled, 2007. Fabric, rubber, thread and stainless steel, 144.8 x 139.7 x 61 cm. White oak, glass and stainless steel vitrine: 193 x 208.2 x 101.6 cm.
Collection (c) The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Photo: Christopher Burke

The Story Behind The Sacks

The peculiar form of sacks has captured the attention of Louise Bourgeois in the early 1990’s, which can be traced through her writings. She started using the variations of sack (filled, transparent, and pilled) in the last phase of her life.

The starting point for articulation came naturally from the woman’s body, as the form resembles the womb, breasts or the female genitalia, and at the same time possess strong sculptural potential. Therefore, these works are to be perceived not only as an active critique of the patriarchal codes of representation of female bodies e.g. their incompleteness, but also as providers of an extraordinary survey on the aging process, maternity, and death.

Left Right Louise Bourgeois at home in 2009. Photo Alex Van Gelder Right Untitled, 2005
Left: Louise Bourgeois at home in 2009. Photo: © Alex Van Gelder / Right: Louise Bourgeois - Untitled, 2005. Fabric, thread, rubber, stainless steel, wood and glass, 241.3 x 200.7 x 109.2 cm. Collection The Easton Foundation(c) The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Photo: Christopher Burke

The Cells

In order to understand better these works, it is necessary to mention the series Cells from the 90’s, to which some of the artworks on this exhibition belong. Those particular installations deal with different types of pain: physical, emotional, psychological, mental and intellectual, as Louise Bourgeois once stated.

An array of emotions related to the omnipresent feeling of repression is here in focus, respectively the inner worlds which reflect the artists psychological and emotional states.

Furthermore, these works can be perceived as perfect examples of the artist's ongoing interest in the gender issues, corporeality and female psychology.

Peaux de Lapins, Chiffons Ferrailles à Vendre, 2006
Louise Bourgeois - Peaux de Lapins, Chiffons Ferrailles à Vendre, 2006. Steel, stainless steel, marble, wood, fabric and plexiglass, 251.5 x 304.8 x 403.9 cm. Collection The Easton Foundation (c) The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Photo: Christopher Burke

The Exhibited Works

The whole constellation is going to be divided into two spaces - the glass pavilion and the ground floor of the gallery.

A grand oval cage filled with sacks made of fabric and similar to organs will be positioned in the center of the first one. Under the title Peaux des lapins, chiffons ferrailles à vendre (2006), this installation questions the processes of birth and death or, in better words, of becoming and decaying of the body.

In the second space, four large vitrines (created from 2005 to 2010), as well as a series of red gouaches, will be settled and both feature the development of the sack form.

Untitled, 2010
Louise Bourgeois - Untitled, 2010. Fabric, thread, rubber, stainless steel, wood and glass, 199.4 x 221 x 110.5 cm. Collection The Easton Foundation (c) The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Photo: Christopher Burke

Louise Bourgeois at Schinkel Pavilion

The exhibition Louise Bourgeois: The Empty House will take place at the Schinkel Pavilion from 20 April until 12 August 2018.

It could not be possible without the collaboration with The Easton Foundation and without the support of Hauptstadtkulturfonds. Aside from the elaborate approach to this abject and mysterious motif of the sack, this show tends to contribute to the ongoing exploration of the work of one of the greatest and most inspiring feminist artists of the time.

Featured image: Louise Bourgeois with her berets as a fabric sculpture in progress in 2010.Photo: © Alex Van Gelder, Art © The Easton Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst. All images courtesy Schinkel Pavilion.

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