58
58
Louise Bourgeois
DISTANT FIGURES 
JUMP TO LOT
58
Louise Bourgeois
DISTANT FIGURES 
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Louise Bourgeois
1911 - 2010
DISTANT FIGURES 
marble and stainless steel 
22 x 30 1/2 x 46 1/4 in. 55.9 x 77.5 x 117.5 cm.
Executed in 1971.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Cheim & Read, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in January 2008

Exhibited

New York, 112 Greene Street, Louise Bourgeois: Sculpture 1970-1974, December 1974
New York, Robert Miller Gallery, Some Seventies Works, June - July 1990, illustrated (on the exhibition announcement)
Zurich, Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Louise Bourgeois, Works in Marble, May - July 2002, cat. no. 11, p. 16, illustrated in color
Mountainville, Storm King Art Center, Bourgeois, May - November 2007, cat. no. 14, p. 43, illustrated in color
London, Tate Modern; Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Louise Bourgeois, October 2007 - May 2009, not illustrated (New York only)

Literature

Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, 1982, p. 90, illustrated (in installation at 112 Greene Street, 1974)

Catalogue Note

Distant Figures of 1971 renders Louise Bourgeois’ deeply metaphoric lexicon of abstraction and figuration in the poetic and resonant medium of marble, and the evocative cluster of forms speaks eloquently of her profound psychological associations with home, family, isolation, and identity.  Her repertoire of symbolic figures remained a constant in her career from her wood Personages of the 1940s to the animalistic Nature Study in pink marble of 1984-1994 and on to her fabric heads and couples of the twenty-first century. While individual totems and spiders abound throughout her corpus, it is the sculptures populated by groups that express the most abundant range of moods, from vulnerability to aggression, isolation to integration, figurative to architectural. Distant Figures, included in the recent retrospective exhibition organized by the Tate Modern in London, is a powerful, mature distillation of the artist’s innate duality. For Bourgeois, the physical tangibility of her sculpture was inseparable from the emotional tributaries that animated her work, whether the sensibility expressed was one of tranquility or tension – or both at once. As the title of Distant Figuresmakes clear, Bourgeois’ actors on this marble stage are closely arranged together, but separated from the viewer by a large empty expanse; the company is gathered as one, yet separated from the whole.

Echoing Bourgeois’ masterpiece, Quarantania I of 1947-53 from the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the individual elements of Distant Figures are similar enough in form and material to co-exist as a family unit. For Bourgeois, family was a concept fraught with contradictory impulses of comfort and trauma, based on the emotional stress caused by her father’s infidelity during her childhood and strained by her mother’s chronic illness and death. Just as Bourgeois’ famous Spider sculptures are described by her both as nurturing and threatening, the very closeness of the huddled forms of marble create their separation from the viewer. Even within the group, heights and color tones vary while the component closest to the viewer exhibits traits, in its short scale and surface treatment, that mark it as an individual within the crowd, reminiscent of the title of Bourgeois’ sculpture of 1955, One and the Others.

 

Bourgeois traveled to Italy from 1967 to 1972 where she worked on cast bronzes and marble sculptures. The artist reveled in the use of different mediums to capture the essence of her conceptual content, stating that ”When you want to say something, you consider saying it in different ways, just as a composer would play in different keys, or different instruments.” (Lynn F. Miller and Sally S. Swenson, Lives and Works: Talks with Women Artists, New Jersey, 1981, pp. 5-6) In the 1960s, Bourgeois experimented with many malleable materials for her sculptures, including plaster and latex, allowing for more feminine and softer forms, many of which she later realized in marble. Even when captured in stone, the cloud-like mounds of Cumul I of 1969 (Musée nationale d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris) and the cylindrical forms of the present work all retain an organic and fluid aura. The medium of marble also allowed Bourgeois to either carve the work as a whole or integrate individual elements onto a marble base as in Distant Figures. This collaging of forms, each attached separately onto her expansive marble plain, accentuates the sense of individuality within community that brings to mind Alberto Giacometti’s City Square of 1948, another modernist masterpieces of attenuated figures reduced to their essence on a narrowly defined and anonymous space.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York