- Louise Bourgeois
- stamped with the artist's initials and numbered 3/6 on the base
- 233.7 x 48.3 x 30.5公分；92 x 19 x 12英寸
Cheim & Read, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008
New York, Cheim & Read, Louise Bourgeois: Echo, September - November 2008, n.p. illustrated in colour (edition no. 4/6)
New York, Cheim & Read, Abstractions by Gallery Artists, September - October 2009 (edition no. 4/6)
Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, 17th Biennale of Sydney, The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, May - August 2010, p. 142, illustrated in colour (edition no. 5/6)
Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada; Edmonton, Art Gallery of Alberta; and Toronto, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Louise Bourgeois, April 2011 - August 2013 (edition no. 5/6)
Madrid, La Casa Encendida, Louise Bourgeois: Honni Soit Qui Mal Y Pense, October 2012 - January 2013, no. 62, illustrated in colour (edition no. AP)
Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Louise Bourgeois: Petite Maman, November 2013 - March 2014 (edition no. AP)
Robert Storr, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois, London 2016, p. 759, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Executed during the mid-1940s and early 1950s, the Personages announced Bourgeois’s artistic arrival in New York. Remarked upon for their upright rigidity, often fragmented instability, and aggressive facture – having been carved, scraped, and gouged from bolsa wood – the Personages were created as abstract surrogates for the family members Bourgeois left behind in Paris after emmigrating to New York in the late 1930s. The watchful and sentinel-like countenances of these pieces enacted a psychical purpose and were used by Bourgeois as an emotional crutch during these early years. Displayed collectively in groups, the Personages performed a cathartic social function; human scaled and portable, these works’ repetitive forms posited a psychic rebuttal against emotional trauma and the distress of loss. At the same time, however, these works responded to the legacy of Surrealism – particularly totemic works such as Max Ernst’s Lunar Asparagus – whilst also pioneering an aesthetic purism that presaged the burgeoning minimalist discourse in America.
In comparison to these early precedents, the Echoes display a relative softening that runs counter to the rigidity of the Personages and also belies the material in which they were cast: bronze. Nonetheless, it is this very amorphous quality that also re-plays the aesthetic development of Bourgeois’ work during the 1960s; an organic and corporeal approach to sculpture that legendary curator Lucy Lippard categorised as ‘Eccentric Abstraction’ in the November 1966 edition of Art International. In tandem with Eva Hesse, who’s pioneering minimalist work privileged clustering forms made from atypical materials such as fabric and latex, Bourgeois began producing work that was rife with bodily associations. Also working with non-traditional ‘soft’ materials, her formless sculptures of this period provoke a distinctly corporeal identification. Evocative of viscous emissions, ambiguous body-parts or organs, these works sensuously conjure the blind formlessness of life itself. Such expressions of a fragmented interior landscape in Bourgeois’s work chime with the essential question at the core of psychoanalyst and part-object theorist Melanie Klein’s contemporaneous theories – what is it like to be at the very beginning of life? With this in mind, Untitled (Echo X) encourages the same reading of abstruse fleshiness; however, its pale form is unmistakably ghostly. Like a shed and discarded snakeskin, this work is replete with the vestiges of a past life.
Famously, Bourgeois never threw anything away; a compulsion she understood as a fear of abandonment rooted in the absences of her father during childhood. Whether away at war or with his mistress, her father’s absence inflicted an emotional cruelty that precipitated lasting psychological distress. That she began using her own clothes in her work from the mid-1990s onwards is testament to the importance of a painful past that she refused to let go of. Draped, sewn, stuffed, stretched into organic form, and ultimately cast in bronze, the Echoes were created using these preserved items of clothing and pieces of fabric. Ultimately the Echoes abound with memorial allusion. Over 60 years of creative production has been masterfully compressed into the slender form of Untitled (Echo X), thus proving Bourgeois’s incessant genius for turning formal repetition and dredged-up emotion into the unerringly new and strikingly innovative.
With an oeuvre that spans almost 70 years, Louise Bourgeois is unmatched in the cumulative potency of her artistic vision; unlike any artist before or since, the brilliance of her work – in its mining of the internal and individual for an expression of the universal human condition – only intensified with age. Indeed, marking a fully-fledged ‘return of the repressed’, Untitled (Echo X) is rife with psychological poignancy and memorial gravitas, an expression of the importance of the past for Bourgeois: “I need my memories. They are my documents. I keep watch over them” (Louise Bourgeois, ‘Statements’ in: Christiane Meyer-Thoss, Louise Bourgeois: Designing for Free Fall¸ Zurich 1992 (2016 edition), p. 183).