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LOUISE BOURGEOIS | Arch of Hysteria

3,000,000 - 4,000,000 USD
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  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Arch of Hysteria
  • stamped with the artist's initials, edition number 4/6, and fabrication date 94 on the underside of the left foot
  • bronze, polished patina
  • 33 by 40 by 32 in. 83.8 by 101.6 by 81.3 cm.
  • Conceived in 1993, this work was cast in 1994 and is number 4 from an edition of 6 plus one artist's proof.


Baumgartner Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1994


Santa Fe, Laura Carpenter Fine Art, Louise Bourgeois: Personages, 1940s / Installations, 1990s, July - September 1993 (ed. 1/6)
Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Louise Bourgeois: Drawings and Early Sculptures, Sculptures and Installations, January - May 1994 (artist's proof) 
Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Museum of Art; Washington, D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; and Montreal, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montreal, Louise Bourgeois: The Locus of Memory, April 1994 - September 1996 (the present work)
Tokyo, The Ueno Royal Museum; and Kangawa-ken, The Hakone Open-Air Museum, Against All Odds: The Healing Powers of Art, June - August 1994, p. 31, no. 8, illustrated (ed. 1/6)
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Louise Bourgeois: Skulpturen Und Installationen, September - October 1994, p. 157, no. 87, illustrated in color (another edition)
Oxford, The Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, October - December 1995 (artist's proof)
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures, environnements, dessins 1938-1995, June - October 1995, p. 207, illustrated in color (another edition)
Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria; and Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois, October 1995 - April 1996, p. 85, no. 29, illustrated, and illustrated on back cover (ed. 1/6)
Monterrey, MARCO; Seville, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo; and Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Louise Bourgeois, June 1995 - August 1996, p. 85, no. 76, illustrated (ed. 6/6) 
São Paulo, Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo, Bienal Internacional São Paulo, October - December 1996, p. 247 (text), p. 261, illustrated in color (another edition)
Madrid, Galerie Soledad Lorenzo, Louise Bourgeois, November 1996 - January 1997, p. 29, illustrated in color (ed. 6/6)
Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Louise Bourgeois, February - April 1997, p. 6, illustrated in color (in installation at the XXIII International São Paolo Bienal, São Paulo, 1997) (another edition), and p. 19, illustrated, and illustrated in color on the front cover (another edition)
Yokohama, Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, November 1997 - January 1998, p. 95, no. 61, illustrated in color (ed. 6/6)
Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien; and Staré Mesto, Galerie Rudolfinum, Angel, Angel, June - November 1997, p. 234, illustrated in color (another edition)
Milan, The Commune di Milano, Rosso Vivo, January - March 1999 (artist's proof)
Birmingham, England, Ikon Gallery, Lost, February - April 2000, p. 61, illustrated in color (ed. 6/6)
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; and Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, The Wounded Diva: Hysteria, Body and Technology in 20th Century Art, March - August 2000, pp. 170-171, illustrated in color (artist's proof)
Saint-Paul, France, Fondation Maeght, Le Nu au XXème Siècle, July - October 2000, pp. 244-245, no. 15, illustrated in color (ed. 6/6)
Korea, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois: The Space of Memory, September - November 2000, pp. 170-171, illustrated in color (another edition)
Vienna, Akademie Der Bildenden Kunste Wien; and Innsbruck, Austria, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Louise Bourgeois: Reconstruction of the Past, April - September 2001 (another edition)
St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum; Helsinki, The Helsinki City Art Museum; Stockholm, Kulturhuset; and Oslo, Museet for Samtidskunst, Louise Bourgeois at the Hermitage, October 2001 - December 2002, p. 64, illustrated in color (ed. 6/6)
Williamstown, Williams College of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Sleepwalking, November 2001 - August 2002 (ed. 3/6)
Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, The Body Transformed, June - October 2003, p. 19, no. 1, illustrated in color (ed. 3/6)
Bologna, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Il Nudo: Ideal and Reality, January - May 2004, p. 215, no. 182, illustrated in color (another edition)
Paris, Grand Palais; and Ottawa, National Gallery of Art, The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist As Clown, March - September 2004, p. 335, no. 198, illustrated in color (artist's proof)
Palma de Mallorca, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca, Louise Bourgeois: Repairs in the Sky, March - June 2005, illustrated (ed. 6/6) 
London, Tate Modern; Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; and Washington, D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Louise Bourgeois, October 2007 - June 2009, p. 43, no. 28, illustrated in color (artist's proof) (London), and pp. 50-51, no. 39, illustrated in color (artist's proof) (Paris)
Tokyo, Ueno Royal Museum, Praemium Imperiale 20th Anniversary Exhibition, September - November 2008 (another edition) 
Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Louise Bourgeois for Capodimonte, October 2008 - January 2009, p. 48, illustrated (in installation), p. 55, illustrated (in installation), and pp. 64-65, illustrated (ed. 6/6)
Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve Cologne, Louise Bourgeois: A Stretch of Time, September - Decmember 2009, p. 8, illustrated in color (another edition), and p. 128, illustrated in color (another edition)
Buenos Aires, Fundación PROA; São Paulo, Instituto Tomie Ohtake; and Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna, Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, March - November 2011 (ed. 6/6)
Florence, Galleria dell'Accademia, Arte Torna Arte, May - November 2012, p. 12, no. 2, illustrated in color, pp. 118-119, illustrated in color (ed. 6/6)
Linz, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz; and Budapest, Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, The Naked Man, October 2012 - February 2013, p. 300, illustrated in color (artist's proof)
Paris, Musée d'Orsay; and Cuauhtémoc, Museo Nacional de Arte, The Male Nude: Dimensions of Masculinity From the 19th Century and Beyond, September 2013 - June 2014, pp. 212-213, illustrated in color (artist's proof)
New York, Cheim & Read, Louise Bourgeois: Suspension, October 2014 - January 2015 
Stockholm, Moderna Museet; and Málaga, Picasso Museum, Louise Bourgeois: I Have Been to Hell and Back, February - September 2015, p. 132, no. 69, illustrated in color (another edition)
Valladolid, National Museum of Sculpture, Fear Nothing, She Says, October 2015 - January 2016, pp. 136-137, illustrated in color (artist's proof)
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, September 2017 - January 2018, p. 144, no. 143, illustrated (artist's proof)
Shanghai, Long Museum; and Beijing, Song Art Museum, Louise Bourgeois: The Eternal Thread, November 2018 - June 2019 (artist's proof)


Exh. Cat., Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Louise Bourgeois Der Ort des Gedächtnisses: Skulpturen, Environments und Zeichnungen 1946 - 1995, 1996, p. 199, illustrated in color (another edition), and illustrated on the front and back cover in color (detail) (another edition) 
Jean Clair, Five Notes on the Work of Louise Bourgeois, New York, 1998, n.p., illustrated in color (another edition)
Dorothee Baer-Bogenschütz, "So flott wie Ferrari," Kunstmarkt, January 2001, p. 15, illustrated (another edition) 
Olesya Turkina, Louise Bourgeois: Pandora's Box, St. Petersburg, 2001, p. 54, illustrated (another edition) 
Jacqueline Caux, Tissée, Tendue au Fil des Jours, La Toile de Louise Bourgeois, Paris, 2003, p. 51, illustrated in color (another edition)
Robert Storr, Paulo Herkenhoff, and Allan Schwartzman, eds., Louise Bourgeois, London, 2003, p. 23, illustrated in color (ed. 2/6)
Exh. Cat., Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, The Body Transformed, 2003, pp. 18-19, no. 1, illustrated in color (another edition)
Poul Erik Tøjner and Penelope Vending, Louise Bourgeois: Life as Art, Humlebæk, 2003, p. 45, illustrated (another edition) 
Dilys Leman, "Up Close and Personal: Louise Bourgeois' Giant Spider," Vernissage 7, Fall 2005, p. 23, illustrated 
Denis Gielen, Atlas of Contemporary Art for Use by Everyone, Tournai, Belgium, 2007, p. 158, no. 4, illustrated in color (another edition)
Nancy Spero, Helmut Lang, Elaine Showalter, and Denyse Bertoni, "Louise Bourgeois I-III," Tate Etc. 11, Autumn 2007, p. 55, illustrated (another edition) 
Juliet Mitchell, Frères et soeurs: sur la piste de l'hystérie masculine, Paris, 2008, illustrated in color on the front cover (another edition)
Emmanuelle Lequeux, "Louise Bourgeois," Qu'est-ce que la Sculpture aujourd'hui?, Paris, 2008, p. 59, illustrated (another edition) 
Renate Stendhal, "Spider Woman," Four Seasons Magazine 3, 2009, p. 93, illustrated (another edition) 
Charlotte Bonham-Carter and David Hodge, The Contemporary Art Book, London, 2009, p. 32, illustrated in color (another edition)
Rob Perrée, "Een eenzame langeafstands loper," Kunstbeeld, March 2009, p. 23, illustrated (another edition) 
Hugo Lauritz Jenssen, "I FYR OG FLAAME," D2, December 11, 2009, p. 27, illustrated (another edition) 
Ann Coxon, Louise Bourgeois, London, 2010, pp. 52-53, illustrated in color (another edition), and p. 79 (text)
Sarah Kent, "Louise Bourgeois - A Law Unto Herself," NOW, Phillips de Pury & Company Sale Catalogue, New York, 2010, p. 28, illustrated in color (another edition)
Ugo Morelli, Mente E Bellezza: Arte, creatività e innovazione, Turin, 2010, p. 19, no. 3, illustrated in color (another edition) 
Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz, "Una Mente Maravillosa," Vogue, February 2011, p. 173, illustrated (another edition)
Philip Larratt-Smith, ed., Louise Bourgeois: El Retorno de lo Reprimido, Argentina, 2011, no. 46, illustrated (another edition) 
Philip Larratt-Smith, ed., Louise Bourgeois: O Retorno do Desejo Proibido, Brazil, 2011, pp. 214-5, no. 50, illustrated (another edition) 
Brook S. Mason, "Working Women Artists: 2011 Status Report," Art Economist 1, 2011, p. 13, illustrated in color (another edition)
Gabriela Schevach, "La confusión es sexo: el arte de Louise Bourgeois," Alphavilles, March 31, 2011, illustrated in color (in installation) (another edition)
Gini Alhadeff, "Jerry Gorovoy on Louise Bourgeois' Arch of Hysteria," Acne Paper 13, Spring 2012, p. 45, illustrated in color (ed. 2/6)
Exh. Cat., Austria, Lentos Kunstmuseum, The Naked Man, 2012, p. 300, illustrated
Philip Larratt-Smith, ed., Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, London, 2012, pp. 222-223, no. 50, illustrated in color (another edition)
Dawn Levesque, "Louise Bourgeois Heading to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art," The Guardian, May 20, 2014, illustrated in color (another edition)
Paulina Szmydke, "Designer Inspirations," WWD, September 24, 2014, p. 5, illustrated (another edition) 
Rebecca Bates, "The Mind's Eye," Architectural Digest, November 3, 2014, illustrated (in installation) (another edition)
Robert Pincus-Witten, Louise Bourgeois: Suspension, Milan, 2014, n.p., illustrated
Juliet Mitchell, "Love and Hate, Girl and Boy," London Review of Books, November 6, 2014, p. 12, illustrated in color (another edition)
Olesya Turkina, Louise Bourgeois: Pandora's Box, Russia, 2015, no. 19, illustrated
Robert Storr, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois, New York, 2016, p. 523, illustrated in color (ed. 2/6), and p. 601, illustrated in color (ed. 2/6)
Jen Townsend and Renée Zettle-Sterling, Cast: Art and Objects Made Using Humanity's Most Transformational Process, Atglen, Pennsylvania, 2017, p. 158, illustrated in color (artist's proof)
Roberta Smith, "Louise Bourgeois: Imagination Unfurling in All Dimensions," The New York Times, September 27, 2017, C15, illustrated (artist's proof) (in installation at the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, Museum of Modern Art, 2017)
"Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait," ManhattanModernist, October 13, 2017, illustrated in color (another edition)

Catalogue Note

“Her sculpture radiates a vital spark that thoroughly absorbs the viewer, as if something inside the object were alive.” (Deborah Wye, “Louise Bourgeois: ‘One and Others,’ in Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, 1982, p. 14) Suspended with impossible, ethereal weightlessness before the viewer, the gleaming figure of Arch of Hysteria is amongst the most exquisite embodiments of the essential drives which run at the very core of Louise Bourgeois’ celebrated artistic practice. Within the taut musculature and expressive pose of the bronze figure, internal states of being achieve tangible and compelling form as, with deft mastery, Bourgeois transforms the human body itself into her medium. Conceived in 1993 and cast in an edition of six plus one artist's proof in varying patinas the following year, the present work is one of only four examples remaining in private hands, in addition to examples held in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Hakone Open-Air Museum of Japan, and the artist’s Easton Foundation in New York. Further testifying to the significance of Arch of Hysteria, an example of the sculpture has been included in virtually every major exhibition of the artist’s work over the past two decades, including the celebrated 2007—2009 retrospective Louise Bourgeois, organized by the Tate Modern in London and traveling to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and, more recently, the widely acclaimed exhibition Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A pristine totem to the beauty of the human form, Arch of Hysteria is heir to a celebrated sculptural legacy that stretches back centuries; while the anatomical perfection of her figure invokes such sculptures as Michelangelo’s David or Rodin’s The Kiss, however, the gleaming bronze of Arch of Hysteria is emphatically modern, recalling the mirrored surfaces and sleek minimalism of Brancusi’s Bird in Space or Donald Judd's stacks. Achieving classical beauty within the purified vernacular of Contemporary art, Arch of Hysteria transcends precedent to stand as irrefutable testament to the unparalleled beauty and profound power of Bourgeois’ sculptural practice. 

Arched to an extremity that belies its lithe grace, the curved figure of Arch of Hysteria achieves the powerful geometric allure of abstract form: beginning with the hands, the eye can follow the curving arms upward into nimble shoulders, over articulated ribs and taut navel, and down the arc of the legs to finally rest upon the delicately flexed toes, mere inches from the outstretched fingertips. Within the bronze form, Bourgeois describes the subtle nuances of the human body with extraordinary specificity, rendering every curve, pucker, and rib with painstaking intention. Describing the irresistible allure of Arch of Hysteria, critic Diane Armitrage comments: “It’s beautiful and mysterious and can engage you simply on a superficial level because the treatment of the bronze is so richly attended to. For this headless, arched body, Bourgeois has chosen a gold patina that also incorporates a spectrum of metallic hues… depending on the viewing angle and the time of day, light from two windows illuminates the subtle display of human veins, distended ribs, and the delicate musculature of Bourgeois’ model.” (Exh. Cat., Milan, Fondazione Prada, Louise Bourgeois: Blue Days and Pink Days, 1997, p. 214) The ethereal suspension of the work lays testament to Bourgeois’ dexterous mastery of her materials: hovering level with the viewer’s gaze, the weightless delicacy of the form seems impossible given the hardened sheen of the bronze cast. Eschewing the canonical sculptural base, Arch of Hysteria is tethered only to the ceiling, imbuing the upturned figure with a sense of movement and implied vulnerability. Arching skyward, the curved figure before us appears have been paused in the midst of divine ascension and, as if grazed with a Midas touch, transformed from flesh to gold in a single moment.

As apt to collapse as to take flight, the acute tension of Bourgeois’ cambered figure imbues the sleek sculptural form with unprecedented emotive intensity. Typifying the very best of the artist’s prodigious output, the arched body acts as corporeal catharsis, a subconscious interior made outward, a physical reconciliation of psychic forces. One scholar describes: “As a form in space, this Arch of Hysteria is dynamic and fluid, yet also fraught… Walking around and around this body, I think of the artist and her fearless ability to plunge into her own undercurrents of turgid emotions.” (Ibid., p. 214) In title and theme, the present work refers to the work of Jean-Martin Charcot, a nineteenth-century French neurologist best known for his pioneering work on ‘hysteria;’ a nervous condition primarily associated with women, hysteria described the physical manifestation of psychological trauma and neuroses within the female body. The artist first explored the theme of the ‘hysterical’ body in an elaborate installation titled Cell (Arch of Hysteria), presented at the Venice Biennale in 1993, in which the arched figure is enclosed within an ominous steel vault as reminder of the inescapable nature of emotional and psycho-sexual drives. Conceived the same year, the elegant simplicity of Arch of Hysteria distills the formal ambivalence of the earlier installation to its essential conflict and, indeed, to the very crux of Bourgeois’ practice: the vital link between conceptual forces and corporeal form. Describing her inquiry in terms highly reminiscent of the present work, Bourgeois asks: “When does the emotional become physical? When does the physical become emotional? It’s a circle going round and round.” (The artist cited in Exh. Cat., Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, The Body Transformed, 2003, p. 18) Within Arch of Hysteria, Bourgeois creates an impassioned figure that is, both visibly and metaphorically, suspended between gendered dualities; cast from the body of the artist's longtime studio assistant and friend Jerry Gorovoy, the present work subverts Charcot’s antiquated diagnosis of the female body as inherently neurotic by activating the male body as sculptural expression of this psychoanalytic narrative. Totemic and profound, the hovering golden figure is truly ambiguous, its graceful form eluding clear distinction to instead encapsulate the universal potency of the individualized human experience. Curator Deborah Wye reflects, “The work of art serves a psychological function for Bourgeois, for she believes that making art is the process of giving tangible form to, and thus exorcising, the gripping, subconscious states of being… By fulfilling this function, Bourgeois’ art achieves emotional intensity. She captures those exorcised feelings in her work and thereby animates it.” (Deborah Wye, “Louise Bourgeois: ‘One and Others,’ in Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, 1982, p. 14) In its activation of the essential human form as manifestation of greater truths, the bronze figure of the present work falls within the sculptural tradition that links such icons as Michelangelo to Rodin, Giacometti to Brancusi, Arp to Judd; yet alongside these storied predecessors, the exquisite form of Arch of Hysteria seems at once more delicate and invincible, emphatic and elusive, sensuous and abstract than any single forebear. Describing the unique and unprecedented power of a Bourgeois sculpture, Wye concludes: “In comparison, however, her work does not seem so generalized, idealized, or otherworldly. Instead, it is specific, quirky, and individualistic. It provides an encounter rather than an object to contemplate. Instead of experiencing an essence or the sublime, we find in it a strikingly poignant and authentic reminder of our humanity.” (Deborah Wye, “Louise Bourgeois: ‘One and Others,’ in Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, 1982, p. 33)

Cast 1/6 (bronze, golden brown patina): Private Collection, United States
Cast 2/6 (bronze, polished patina): Private Collection
Cast 3/6 (bronze, silver nitrate patina): National Gallery of Canada
Cast 4/6 (bronze, polished patina): The present work
Cast 5/6 (bronze, polished patina): Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan
Cast 6/6 (bronze, polished patina): Private Collection
Artist's proof (bronze, polished patina): The Easton Foundation