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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Louise Bourgeois
CLUTCHING HANDS
Estimate
900,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,095,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
40

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Louise Bourgeois
CLUTCHING HANDS
Estimate
900,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,095,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Louise Bourgeois
1911 - 2010
CLUTCHING HANDS
incised with the artist's initials and dated 90
pink marble 
27 3/4 by 23 1/2 by 21 1/2 in. 70.5 by 59.7 by 54.6 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Baumbartner Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1995

Exhibited

Santa Fe, Laura Carpenter Fine Arts, Louise Bourgeois Personages, 1940s / Installations, 1990s, July - September 1993
Washington, D.C., National Museum of Women in the Arts, 30th Anniversary Exhibition, June - September 2017, p. 17, illustrated

Literature

Exh. Cat., Milan, Fondazione Prada, Louise Bourgeois: Blue Days and Pink Days, 1997, n.p., illustrated (with the artist)

Catalogue Note

Dependency became a significant theme in Louise Bourgeois’s late work: dependency on memories to fuel her work and dependency on other people as she grew into old age. The series of sculptural pieces titled Clutching Hands, Nature Study or Give and Take enshrine the theme of dependency in the guise of a pair of intertwined hands. These works range from the entirely abstract in the form of interlaced tendril-like masses through to poignant bronze casts of the artist’s own age-worn hands. Created in 1990 and hewn from pink marble, the present work exists somewhere between the two aforementioned polarities of abstract and verisimilar corporeality. Evoking the amorphous forms that came to prominence as part of Lucy Lippard’s ground-breaking 1966 exhibition, Eccentric Abstraction, the present work echoes the psychologically charged interior spaces of Bourgeois’s earliest sculpture, and conjures the minimalist yet corporeal forms of Eva Hesse. And yet this piece deals with the powerfully melancholic and biographically emotive direction of Bourgeois’s late work.

Following 30 years of psychoanalysis, the suppressed experiences of her childhood and young life powerfully return in Bourgeois’s Old Age production: beginning around the mid-1980s when she was well into her 70s and spanning the rest of her life, this body of work is characterized by a heightened vividness of memorial allusion. The loss of her husband Robert Goldwater in 1973, the passing of her psychoanalyst Henry Lowenfeld in 1982, and the premature death of her son Michel in 1990, undoubtedly compounded the progressively melancholic and painful emotions driving her late work. Underlining the prevalence of duality and polarity that have played a significant part throughout her oeuvre, the present work  focuses our attention on the vehicle and facilitator of artistic creativity: the human hand. Hands are incessantly repeated motifs in Bourgeois’s production from the late 1980s onwards. They represent the source of Bourgeois’s creativity and yet they are simultaneous symbols of emotional support and need; corporeal signifiers of the passing of time and the importance of others. Evoking memories of a childhood spent working at the Bourgeois family’s tapestry restoration workshop, the artist interweaves fingers as though they are threads; their warp and weft knit together in a lattice of psychological and physical support.

Dependency on her memories was accompanied by another form of dependency later in life – Bourgeois’s reliance upon Jerry Gorovoy. For thirty years Gorovoy was the artist’s unwavering confidant, friend, assistant, and, in Bourgeois’s own words, he was her ‘facilitator.’ His constancy, patience, and support are commemorated in the late works featuring hands; many of which are based on casts of his own. They are often shown multiple times, proffering an outstretched palm or defensively balled into fist, and in doing so Bourgeois presents the psychic duality of dependency itself; a social dynamic that the artist did not view as being necessarily reciprocal. We are thus once again thrust back into a psychic state that is at the very foundation of human experience: the mother/infant dynamic. Bourgeois’s dependency and reliance on others expresses a deeper unconscious and ambivalent wish to be united with the original object of desire and affection – the mother. Bourgeois’s need to be mothered, to be looked after, and her ambivalence towards having to look after others, returns us to the very beginning. Indeed, it is pure testament to the brilliance of Louise Bourgeois’s work that through the biographical and specific she consistently brings us back to the most primal and universal of human emotions.

 

 

 

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York