Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)

Amoeba

Details
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
Amoeba
incised with the artist's initials and numbered 'L.B. 2/6' (lower right); stamped with Modern Art Foundry mark 'MAF' and dated '92' (lower right edge)
bronze, painted white, wall piece
37½ x 28½ x 13¼in. (95.3 x 72.4 x 33.7cm.)
Conceived in 1963-1965 and cast in 1992, this work is number two from an edition of six plus one artists's proof
Provenance
Hauser & Wirth.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
Literature
Louise Bourgeois. Blue Days and Pink Days, exh. cat., Milan, Fondazione Prada, 1997 (another from the edition illustrated, pp. 118 and 146).
M. Nixon, 'Eating Words', in Oxford Art Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, Oxford 1999, fig. 4 (plaster version illustrated, p. 60).
A. Jahn, Louise Bourgeois: Subversionen Des Körpers, Berlin 1999 (plaster version, detail illustrated in colour, cover; installation view illustrated, p. 236).
M. Nixon, Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art, Cambridge 2005, no. 5.8 (plaster version illustrated, p. 181).
M. Nixon, 'O + X', in October 119, Cambridge 2007 (plaster version illustrated, p. 8).
Exhibited
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, 1982-1983, no. 84 (plaster version exhibited, illustrated, p. 70). This exhibition later travelled to Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Akron, Akron Art Museum.
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective 1939-1989, 1989- 1990, no. 47 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, p. 94). This exhibition later travelled to Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Lyon, Musée d' art contemporain; Barcelone, Fundació Antoni Tàpies; Bern, Kunstmuseum Bern and Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum.
Vienna, Galerie Krinzinger, Louise Bourgeois 1939-89 Skulpturen und Zeichnungen, 1990.
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Louise Bourgeois. Memory and Architecture, 1999-2000, no. 32 (plaster version exhibited, illustrated, unpaged).
London, Tate Modern, Surrealism: Desire Unbound, 2001 (another from the edition exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Beacon, Dia Center for the Arts, Louise Bourgeois Installation at Inauguration of Dia: Beacon, 2003-present (plaster version on long term loan).
New York, Cheim & Read, Circa 70: Lynda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois, 2007 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, unpaged).
London, Tate Modern, Louise Bourgeois, 2007-2008, no. 23 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 39). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou, no. 28 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 45); New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art and Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Buenos Aires, Fundación PROA, Louise Bourgeois: el retorno de lo reprimido, 2011, no. 23 (plaster version exhibited, illustrated, p. 190). This exhibition later travelled to Sao Paulo, Instituto Tomie Ohtake and Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna de Rio de Janeiro. no. 26 (plaster version exhibited, illustrated, p. 180).
Post lot text
The plaster cast is on long term loan to the Dia Center for the Arts, Beacon, and another from the bronze edition is in the permanent collection of Tate Modern, London.

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Lot Essay

'For me, sculpture is the body. My body is my sculpture' (L. Bourgeois, quoted in P. Weiermair (ed.), Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt 1995, p. 228).


'I could not be a painter. The two dimensions do not satisfy me. I have to have the reality given by the third dimension' (L. Bourgeois, quoted in Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Tate, London 2007, p. 258).

'My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama. All my work of the last fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood. (L. Bourgeois, quoted in L. Neri, 'The Personal Effects of a Woman with No Secrets', Louise Bourgeois oeuvres récentes/Recent Works, exh. cat., Serpentine Gallery, London 1998, p. 81).


Conceived between 1963 and 1965, Amoeba coincides with a pivotal point in Louise Bourgeois' career. Following a nine years hiatus from the art world, in 1964 Bourgeois revealed a new body of abstract sculpture at the renowned Stable Gallery in New York to critical acclaim. Followed soon after with inclusion in Lucy Lippard's seminal exhibition Eccentric Abstraction at the Fischbach Gallery in New York in 1966, this period marks a distinct departure from her totemic wooden personnages of decades prior. Amoeba forms part of a major series of works defined by their organic shapes that emerged from pouring plaster, bronze, latex, and rubber. Originally cast in plaster and recast in bronze in 1985, Amoeba is a rare example of wall mounted sculpture in Bourgeois' oeuvre, swelling from the wall like a pregnant belly. Taking its name from the membrane enclosed single-celled organism, Amoeba shares a dialogue with one further wall-mounted work from this period, Torso: Self-Portrait, 1963-1964, housed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Together with Torso: Self-Portrait, the sculptures represent the full gestation period from embryo to organism. An edition of six, one cast of Amoeba forms part of the permanent collection of Tate, London.

Much of Bourgeois' imagery is rooted in and can be traced to her own life, particularly to her experience of childhood traumas and the fraught terrain of femininity, but her works also resonate on a much wider scale, conveying universal themes of emotion, anxiety and longing. According to the artist, Amoeba was inspired by early memories of playing with tadpoles in the Creuse and Bièvre rivers near her childhood home in France, recalling: 'my childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama. All my work of the last fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood' (L. Bourgeois, quoted in L. Neri, 'The Personal Effects of a Woman with No Secrets', Louise Bourgeois oeuvres récentes/Recent Works, exh. cat., Serpentine Gallery, London 1998, p. 81). Like a tadpole, Amoeba possesses a biomorphic quality, its sinuous, amorphous form appearing in a constant state of ever changing metamorphosis. This analogy of the tadpole also brings to mind human gestation within the womb, the undulating swells of bronze imparting the ephemeral quality of a heartbeat. Herself a mother, the supple organic shapes are suggestive of pregnancy and motherhood, their corporality evoking the roundness of a maternal belly, the swelling of breasts, the central cavity appearing as a vital orifice. As the artist has stated, 'for me, sculpture is the body. My body is my sculpture' (L. Bourgeois, quoted in P. Weiermair, Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Frankfurt 1995, p. 228).

The abstracted bulbous forms are some of the most iconic motifs of the artist. Employing diverse materials, from cast bronze to carved marble to stitched fabric, Bourgeois has used sculpture to investigate projected psychological states. Setting Bourgeois apart from her post-Minimalist contemporaries Eva Hesse and Bruce Nauman, whose forms were a philosophical and conceptual reaction against Minimalism, Bourgeois' abstracted forms were informed and inspired by her own experiences (P. Larratt-Smith, Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, exh. cat., Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires, 2011, p. 4). Inherently linked through their autobiographical, highly personal exploration, Bourgeois' concern with the body and memory resonates throughout her artistic practice. As the artist states, 'it is not an image I am seeking. It's not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving, and of destroying' (L. Bourgeois, quoted in C. Meyer-Thoss, 'Self-Expression Is Sacred and Fatal: Statements', Louise Bourgeois: Designing for Free Fall, exh. cat., Zurich 1992, p. 194).

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