Louise Bourgeois - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Cheim & Read, New York
    Private Collection, California (acquired from the above)

  • Exhibited

    New York, Museum of Modern Art; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Akron Art Museum, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, November 3, 1982 - January 5, 1984 (another example exhibited)
    Paris, Maeght-Lelong; Zurich, Maeght-Lelong, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospektive 1947-1984, February - March 1985 (another example exhibited)
    Bridgehampton, Dia Art Foundation, Louise Bourgeois: Works from the Sixties, May 25 - June 25, 1989, p. 4 (another example exhibited and installation view illustrated)
    Frankfurter Kunstverein; Munich, Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Lyon, Musée d’art Contemporain; Barcelona, Fundación Tàpies; Kunstmuseum Bern; Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum, Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, December 2, 1989 - July 8, 1991 (another example exhibited)
    Columbus, Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, The Ohio State University, Inaugural Exhibition Part II - Art in Europe and America: The 1960s and 1970s, May 18 - August 5, 1990 (another example exhibited)
    New York, Barbara Toll Fine Arts, Human Hands (Modeled Sculpture), May 9 - June 6, 1992 (another example exhibited)
    Los Angeles, Linda Cathcart Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, January 9 - February 27, 1993 (another example exhibited)
    Santa Fe, Laura Carpenter Fine Art, Louise Bourgeois Personages, 1940s / Installations, 1990s, July 31 - August 8, 1993 (another example exhibited)
    Vienna, Galerie Krinzinger Wien, Louise Bourgeois 1939-89 Skulpturen und Zeichnungen, May 18 - June 12, 1990 (another example exhibited)
    Monterrey, MARCO; Seville, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo; Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Louise Bourgeois, June 15, 1995 - August 15, 1996, p. 61 (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Mahwah, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Heavy Metal: From Process to Performance, September 17 - October 17, 2008 (another example exhibited)
    London, Tate Modern; Paris, Centre Pompidou; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; Washington, D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Louise Bourgeois, October 10, 2007 - June 7, 2009 (another example exhibited)
    London, Hauser & Wirth, After Awkward Objects: Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Alina Szapocznikow, November 17 - December 16, 2009 (another example exhibited)
    Buenos Aires, Fundación Proa; Sao Paulo, Instituto Tomie Ohtake; Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna, Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, March 19 - November 13, 2011, no. 20, p. 181 (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Twosome, September 7, 2017 - January 20, 2018, p. 57 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    John Howell, ed., Breakthroughs: Avant-Garde Artists in Europe and America 1950 - 1990, New York, 1991, p. 102 (another example illustrated)
    Robert Storr, Paulo Herkenhoff and Allan Schwartzman, Louise Bourgeois, London, 2003, p. 61 (another example illustrated)
    Robert Storr, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois, New York, 2016, p. 493 (plaster version illustrated, p. 323)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Louise Bourgeois is the most inquisitive and best-informed artists of her generation”
    Robert Storr

    Louise Bourgeois’ sculptural practice is at once informed by and completely distinct from the artists from which she drew her influence. Well-versed in the discourses surrounding Cubism, Purism, and Surrealism, Bourgeois moved to New York in the late 1930s with a unique understanding of the intersection of these movements in the male-dominated post-war American art world. Soon after she left Paris for New York, the female artist befriended some of the exiled Surrealist circle including André Breton and Joan Miró, not forgetting what she learned during her time at the École des Beaux Arts with teachers such as Fernand Léger. It was her unique appreciation for the differences found among these leading artists that made Bourgeois herself a leader in a new discipline of sculpture, or as Robert Storr called, “the most inquisitive and best-informed artist of her generation” (Robert Storr, “Abstraction, L’Esprit géométrique” in Frances Morris, ed., Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, p. 27).

    The Purist ideology of Fernand Léger was a huge influence on Bourgeois throughout the entirety of her career. An example from the edition of the most recent work in the following selection of sculptures, Untitled, 2001, was included in a 2005 exhibition of Fernand Léger’s work held at the Mjellby Konstmuseum in Halmstad, highlighting the influence of Léger on celebrated contemporary artists. Of Léger, Bourgeois said, “Fernand Léger was my best teacher… He said: ‘Louise, you are not a painter, you are a sculptor.’” (Louise Bourgeois, quoted in Robert Maxwell, “Interview with Robert Maxwell”, Modern Painters, vol. 6, no. 2, 1993, p. 41) Untitled indeed highlights Bourgeois’ sculptural prowess, consisting of three individual elements in varying heights, cast in silver nitrate. Together, these elements reference the male body while simultaneously recalling the stylized motifs found in Léger’s practice, evident in the spiral patterns carved into the bases of the two smaller elements. These three forms, however, can also be seen through the lens of Bourgeois’ Surrealist influences, which are evident too in the earlier of these three sculptures, both cast in 1990 – Rondeau for L, conceived in 1963, and The Loved Hand, conceived in 1967.

    As Robert Storr espoused of the influence of Surrealism on Bourgeois, “In [the artist’s] restless hands, Surrealist biomorphism…allowed not only for allusions to, or alternate representations of, the body, but for a fundamental remaking of the world in which simple elements – a pen stroke or arabesque, carved chunk or length of wood, lump of clay or plaster – could be made to change identity or referent according to its ‘behaviour’ in isolation or in groups. At any given moment, such an element might suggest the geographical or geological, the vegetal or the animal, the male or female. Virtually never do any of them stand unmistakably for one thing.” (Robert Storr, “Abstraction, L’Esprit géométrique” in Frances Morris, ed., Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, p. 30) This is particularly evident in The Loved Hand, which may suggest a reference to the corporeal in its title, but cannot be isolated in this single interpretation. Suggesting a feeling of belonging that is distinctly feminine, The Loved Hand, in its form’s complexities, actually suggests what might be the opposite—something which is searching for love, or separate parts of a whole fighting for the same affection.

    Rondeau for L may not reference anything relating to the human body, but is rather Surrealist in its psychological origins. Titled after Bourgeois’ psychoanalyst Dr. Henry Lowenfeld, this work reflects the period of the artist’s life in which it was made – one defined by introspection. In the 1960s when both Rondeau for L and The Loved Hand were conceived, Bourgeois was not only delving into her own subconscious, she was also shifting her sculptural practice from her earlier, geometric Personnages to more abstracted forms, which she used to explore her inner thoughts. As she said of these 1960s works, “[the] trembling and random quality of these materials reflected the polarities of feelings I needed to say” (Louise Bourgeois, quoted in Christine Meyer-Thoss, Designing for Free Fall, New York, 1992, p. 126). This transition is perhaps one of the most direct references to the effect of Surrealism on her practice, and yet the dynamic shapes which she cast established their own art historical purpose in the context of the post-modern world.

  • 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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Rondeau for L

stamped with the artist's initials and number "L.B. 4/6" on the back right turning edge
11 x 11 x 10 1/2 in. (27.9 x 27.9 x 26.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1963 and cast in 1990, this work is number 4 from an edition of 6.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $93,750

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018