Louise Bourgeois - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Robert Miller Gallery, New York
    Faggionato Fine Arts, London
    Gallery Seomi, Seoul
    Private Collection, Seoul

  • Exhibited

    New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, November 3, 1982 – January 1, 1984, p. 63, pl.65 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Jerry Gorovoy and John Cheim, eds., Louise Bourgeois: Drawings, Robert Miller Gallery: New York, 1988, p. 133 (illustrated)
    Marie-Laure Bernadac, Louise Bourgeois, Flammarion, New York, 1996, p. 30 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The repetitive motion of a line, to caress an object, the licking of wounds, the back and forth of a shuttle, the endless repetition of waves, rocking a person to sleep, cleaning someone you like, an endless gesture of love.” – Louise Bourgeois

    Executed only four years after her first solo exhibition in New York at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, the present lot Untitled, from 1949, is exemplary of the artist’s drawing technique that is at once intimate and discernible, allowing for subtle variations of linearity and iconographical references. The repetition and density of the lines evolve through her careful hand in a systematic hatching, creating voluminous, supple forms that pulse with a frenetic, dynamic energy. The linear motif evokes the artist’s deeply personal connection to skeins of thread, replete in her childhood memories from wool for tapestries, braided stalks of onions and chair frames hanging from the attic, and thread whirling through spools. The present lot finds elegant expression in the varying thickness of ebony lines, coursing throughout the primal composition and suggesting fundamentally organic forms that delight our eye and challenge our spatial perceptions. Bourgeois’s linear means transform the sheet and enable her to move seamlessly from one line to the next, from foreground to background, weaving between shapes. For Bourgeois, the imagery in works such as Untitled with vertical shapes seemingly suspended in air summon tender recollections of her childhood in Antony, France. She has reminisced, "The attic was very large because of the slope of the house. Antique chair frames were hung from the ceiling everywhere. My father collected them. He would take them down from the ceiling very delicately and examine them" (Louise Bourgeois in Marie-Laure Bernadac, Louise Bourgeois, Flammarion, New York, p. 32, 1996). Uniting the diversity of formal elements, including line, form, and color, into a resilient, timeless space elevates the composition to become limitless in its possibility and infinite in its implications.

  • Artist Biography

    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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ink on paper
14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Signed "Louise Bourgeois" lower right.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $131,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 10 May 2016