Untitled (The Wedges)

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  • Provenance

    Cheim & Read, New York
    Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles
    Gallery Seomi, Seoul
    Private Collection, Seoul

  • Exhibited

    Vienna, Galerie Krinzinger Wien, Louise Bourgeois 1939-89 Skulpturen und Zeichnungen, May 18 - June 12, 1990 (another example exhibited)
    Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Louise Bourgeois: Bronzes of the 1940s and 1950s, October 13 - November 8, 1990 (another example exhibited)
    Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein; Munich, Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Lyon, Musée d'art Contemporain; Barcelona, Fundación Tàpies; Bern, Kunstmuseum; Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum, Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, December 2, 1989 - July 8, 1991 (another example exhibited), no. 21, p. 85 (illustrated)
    Santa Fe, Laura Carpenter Fine Art, Louise Bourgeois Personages, 1940s / Installations, 1990s, July 31 - September 8, 1993 (another example exhibited)
    Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures, March 9 - October 30, 1994 (another example exhibited), no. 16, p. 47 (illustrated)
    Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO); Seville, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo; Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Louise Bourgeois, June 15, 1995 - August 15, 1996 (another example exhibited), no. 25, p. 55 (illustrated)
    Fukuoka City, Mitsubishi-Jisho Artium; Seoul, Walker Hill Art Center, Louise Bourgeois, August 18 - November 14, 1995
    Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois, October 19, 1995 - March 14, 1996 (another example exhibited), no. 19 (illustrated)
    Montreal, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montreal, Louise Bourgeois, April 25 - September 22, 1996 (another example exhibited)
    Salzburg, Rupertinum, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures and Objects, July 24 - October 27, 1996 (another example exhibited)
    Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, November 2, 1997 - January 15, 1998 (another example exhibited), p. 65 (illustrated)
    Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle, Frauenmacht und Mannerherrschaft im Kulturvergleich, November 24, 1997 - March 8, 1998 (another example exhibited)
    New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The American Century: Art and Culture, 1950-2000, September 23, 1999 - February 27, 2000 (another example exhibited)
    Kyunggi-Do, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois: The Space of Memory, September 7 - November 5, 2000 (another example exhibited), no. 22, p. 117 (illustrated)
    St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, Louise Bourgeois at the Hermitage, October 9, 2001 - January 13, 2002; then traveled to Helsinki City Art Museum; Stockholm, Kulturhuset; Oslo, Museet for Samtidskunst; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, February 25, 2002 - June 22, 2003 (another example exhibited)
    Munich, Haus der Kunst; Moscow, The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Bilbao, Guggenheim Bilbao; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence: The Cells, February 27, 1015 - February 26, 2017 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    Barbara Catoir and Mary Jane Jacob, Louise Bourgeois, Cologne: Galerie Carsten Greve, 1999, p. 61 (illustrated)
    Poul Erik Tøjner and Penelope Vending, Louise Bourgeois: Life as Art, Humlebæk: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2003, no. 17 (illustrated)
    Gianfranco D’Amato and Robert Rademacher, Galerie Karsten Greve: 40 Years, Cologne; 20 Years, Paris; 10 Years, St. Moritz, Cologne: Galerie Karsten Greve, 2009, p. 126 (illustrated)
    Robert Pincus-Witten, "Louise Bourgeois: The Personages", in Personages, Seoul: Kukje Gallery, 2012, pp. 81, 83 (illustrated)
    Olesya Turkina, Louise Bourgeois: Pandora's Box, Moscow: Garage, 2015, no. 5 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving, and of destroying.” Louise Bourgeois

    Ever so delicately oblique, Untitled (The Wedges) possesses all of the elegantly expressed, provocative imagery critical to the formation of Louise Bourgeois’ work. For the artist, abstraction was yet another instrument to discern and contend with her emotions, which governed her artistic output. When characterizing her linear hatching, or her totemic forms and shapes, she would often use such terms as “caressing” or “calming”, her techniques echoing her fluctuating emotional states and moods. The act of repetition is central to her discipline, as much of her practice borrowed from the Surrealists’ trademark automatism. Her compositions are driven by intuition with allegorical nuances. Her series entitled Personages, of which the present lot is exemplary, bares a massive range of possible associations, from indigenous allusions, ancient artifacts, and domestic relics to icons of state-of-the art skyscrapers. At once inviting and disquieting, Untitled (The Wedges) imitates the primal basis of art, while demonstrating a deeply personal, impervious testimonial.

    In 1941, Bourgeois set out to develop a new series of standing figures, aptly titled Personages. Living in Manhattan with her burgeoning family, she fled to the the roof of her house, which not only allowed her work to grow both in height and scope, but also served as a refuge from the confines of her small apartment and her seemingly perpetual domestic duties. Surrounded by sleek, towering skyscrapers—the exact opposite of the lavishly decorated homes from her childhood in France—Bourgeois questioned in earnest the possibilities of sculpture and their capacity to engage with nature, architecture and viewers. While the Personages speak to her modernist environment, the series also distinctively illustrates her complicated relationships to the friends and family she left in France. Bourgeois recalls, “Suddenly I had this huge sky space to myself, and I began doing these standing figures. A friend asked me what I was doing. I told him, 'I feel so lonely that I am rebuilding these people around me’'' (Louise Bourgeois in Michael Brenson, “A Sculptor Comes into Her Own”, The New York Times, October 31, 1982). The emotional aftermath of her arrival in New York offered the consummate landscape to articulate her desire for liberation and also her yearning for familiarity.

    Bourgeois initially carved the Personages from wood, with the intention of later casting them in bronze; she made Untitled (The Wedges) in wood in 1950, and the present lot was cast in bronze in 1991. Extending the production of the Personages over many years, in differing circumstances, importantly enabled her to retain control over the works, to extend her exposure with them and keep them intimately as her own before they would ultimately be divorced from her care. On the occasion of her show at the Tate Modern in 2007, curator Josef Helfenstein commented "The Personages, the most distinct group of Bourgeois' early work, have only been recently recognized as an outstanding contribution to the history of sculpture in the Twentieth century. Although Bourgeois has developed her works in unprecedented directions after 1955, constantly shifting to new concepts, styles and materials, the Personages provide the key to crucial themes and concerns of her entire body of work." (Josef Helfenstein, "Personages: Animism versus Modernist Sculpture" in exh. cat., London, Tate Modern, Louise Bourgeois, 2009, p. 207)

  • Artist Bio

    Louise Bourgeois

    French-American • 1911 - 2010

    Known for her idiosyncratic style, Louise Bourgeois was a pioneering and iconic figure of twentieth and early twenty-first century art. Untied to an art historical movement, Bourgeois was a singular voice, both commanding and quiet.

    Bourgeois was a prolific printmaker, draftsman, sculptor and painter. She employed diverse materials including metal, fabric, wood, plaster, paper and paint in a range of scale — both monumental and intimate. She used recurring themes and subjects (animals, insects, architecture, the figure, text and abstraction) as form and metaphor to explore the fragility of relationships and the human body. Her artworks are meditations of emotional states: loneliness, jealousy, pride, anger, fear, love and longing.

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Untitled (The Wedges)

cast bronze and stainless steel
63 1/2 x 21 x 16 in. (161.3 x 53.3 x 40.6 cm)
Initialed and numbered "L.B. 4/6" on the lowest element; further stamped by the foundry and dated "91" on the lowest element. Conceived in 1950 and cast in 1991, this work is number 4 from an edition of 6 plus 1 artist's proof.

$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

sold for $1,925,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 May 2016