Louise Bourgeois’s The Blind Leading the Blind, 1947-1949, from the Hirshhorn’s collection.
February 26 to May 17, 2009
The Hirshhorn presents a major survey of the works of Louise Bourgeois, the French-born artist who emigrated to the United States in 1938. Inspired by ideas and styles from diverse avant-garde art movements in Europe and America—notably Surrealism, primitivism, psychoanalysis, conceptualism and feminism—Bourgeois forged a highly personal amalgam of images and materials. Personal memories play a central role in her works, yet the sculptures themselves fascinate viewers who bring their own emotional associations.
The exhibition opens with Bourgeois’ early drawings and paintings, followed by the sculptural series of Personages, starkly abstracted standing figures created in the aftermath of World War II. Subsequent sculptures hang from the ceiling (Spiral Woman, Arch of Hysteria, Janus and Legs), attach to walls (Torso Self-Portrait and Mamelles), and are secreted in dramatic enclosures (“Destruction of the Father“).
The exhibited works encompass a startling array of images and materials, ranging from traditional plaster, bronze, marble and wood to plastic, resin, latex, wax, steel fences, toy doll fragments, electric lights, fabrics, glass, rubber and found objects. The highlight of the exhibition is a stellar array of Bourgeois’ rarely seen masterpieces: the large structured environments known as the Cell series, including Cell (Choisy), the autobiographical duo Red Room (Parents) and Red Room (Child), and the nightmarish Spider cell. The exhibition is accompanied by a 320-page catalog.
Louise Bourgeois was organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution in association with Tate Modern, London and Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Louise Bourgeois at the Hirshhorn Museum is sponsored by Altria Group, Inc.
The exhibition is made possible in part by the Agnes Gund Foundation, Glenn R. Fuhrman, Ginny Williams, and George R. Roberts. Additional support is provided by the Holenia Trust in Memory of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, the Friends of Jim and Barbara Demetrion Endowment Fund, and the Hirshhorn’s Board of Trustees.