Isa Genzken (b. 1948)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)

Labyrinthine Tower

Details
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
Labyrinthine Tower
incised with the artist’s initials, numbered, dated and stamped with foundry mark ‘6/6 L.B. MAF cast 91’ (lower edge)
bronze with gold patina
16 ¾ x 10 ¼ x 8 3/8in. (42.5 x 26 x 21.2cm.)
Conceived in 1962 and cast in 1991, this work is number six from an edition of six plus one artist’s proof

Iron version (5/5) is in the Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection.
Black marble version is in the Collection of LEEUM, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul.
Provenance
Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005.
Literature
L. R. Lippard, ‘Louise Bourgeois: From the Inside Out’, in Artforum, vol. 13, March 1975 (plaster version illustrated, p. 32).
R. Pincus-Whitten, Bourgeois Truth, exh. cat., New York, Robert Miller Gallery, 1982 (plaster version illustrated, unpaged).
C. Meyer-Thoss, Louise Bourgeois: Designing For Free Fall, Zurich 1992, p. 255 (plaster version illustrated, p. 20).
M.-L. Bernadac, Louise Bourgeois, Paris 1996 (plaster version illustrated, p. 68).
F. Zdenek, Louise Bourgeois Der Ort des Gedächtnisses ; Skulpturen, Environments und Zeichnungen 1946-1995, exh. cat., Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, 1996 (plaster version illustrated, p. 90).
M.-L. Bernadac and H.-U. Obrist (eds.), Louise Bourgeois, Destruction of the Father, Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews 1923-1997, London 2000 (plaster version illustrated, p. 86).
R. Crone and P. Graf Schaesberg, Louise Bourgeois: The Secret of the Cells, Munich 1998, p. 57, no. 84 (plaster version illustrated in colour, p. 56).
P. Vetham, ‘Als ik geen kunst zou maken zou ik sterven, an interview with Louise Bourgeois’, in Elegance, no. 4, April 1998 (illustrated, p. 104).
B. Catoir and M. J. Jacob, Louise Bourgeois, Cologne 1999, p. 217 (plaster version illustrated, p. 69).
A. Jahn, Louise Bourgeois : Subversionen Des Körpers, Berlin 1999, no. 109 (plaster version illustrated, p. 211).
T. Kellein, Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 1999 (bronze version illustrated in colour, p. 10).
O. Turkina, Louise Bourgeois : Pandora’s Box, exh. cat., St. Petersburg, Borey Art Center, 2001 (plaster version illustrated, p. 42).
R. Storr, P. Herkenhoff and A. Schwartzman (eds.), Louise Bourgeois, London 2003 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 60).
E. Keller and M. Regula (eds.), Louise Bourgeois: Emotions Abstracted, Works 1941-2000, Zurich 2004, pp. 73 and 124, no. 24 (plaster version illustrated in colour, p. 75).
R. Martinez, Centre of Gravity, exh. cat., Istanbul, Istanbul Modern, 2005 (plaster version illustrated, p. 131).
M. Nixon, Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art, Cambridge, Massachusetts 2005, no. 6.12 (plaster version illustrated, p. 226).
P. Larratt-Smith (ed.), Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, London 2012, p. 299, no. 14 (plaster version illustrated, p. 172).
Exhibited
New York, Stable Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Recent Sculpture, 1964 (plaster version exhibited).
New York, The Sculptor’s Guild, Inc., Sculpture 1964, 1964 (iron version exhibited; plaster version illustrated, p. 8).
New York, The Sculptor’s Guild, Inc., Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition, 1967 (iron version exhibited, plaster version illustrated, p. 10).
New York, 112 Greene Street, Louise Bourgeois: Sculpture 1970-1974, 1974 (iron version exhibited).
New York, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, Selections from the New York University Art Collection, 1976 (iron version exhibited).
New York, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, Small Sculpture, 1981 (iron version exhibited).
Chicago, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Louise Bourgeois: Femme Maison, 1981, no. 22 (iron version exhibited).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, 1982-1984, no. 83 (plaster version exhibited, illustrated, p. 70). This exhibition later travelled to Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum (iron version exhibited); Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art (iron version exhibited) and Akron, Akron Art Museum (iron version exhibited).
New York, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Works by Newly Elected Members and Recipients of Honors and Awards, 1983.
New York, Jamaica Arts Center, Sculpture from the Collection of the Gray Art Gallery and Study Center, 1983 (iron version exhibited).
Paris, Maeght-Lelong, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospektive 1947-1984, 1985, no. 16 (iron version exhibited; marble version illustrated, p. 22). This exhibition later travelled to Zurich, Galerie Maeght-Lelong and London, Serpentine Gallery.
Miami, Florida International University, Louise Bourgeois, 1987 (plaster version exhibited).
Boston, Grossman Gallery, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Undercurrents: Rituals and Translations, 1987 (plaster version exhibited).
Bridgehampton, Dia Art Foundation, Louise Bourgeois; Works from the Sixties, 1989 (plaster version exhibited, illustrated, p. 13).
Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Bilderstreit, 1989 (plaster version exhibited).
New York, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Louise Bourgeois Sculpture, 1989 (plaster version exhibited).
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1989-1991, no. 36 (plaster version exhibited, p. 88). This exhibition later travelled to Munich, Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Lyon, Musée d’art Contemporain; Barcelona, Fundació Tàpies; Bern, Kunstmuseum and Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum.
Columbus, Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, The Ohio State University, Inaugural Exhibition Part II – Art in Europe and America: The 1960s and 1970s, 1990 (plaster version exhibited).
Vienna, Galerie Krinzinger Wien, Louise Bourgeois 1939-89 Skulpturen und Zeichnungen, 1990 (plaster version exhibited).
Denver, Ginny Williams Gallery, Bourgeois: Four Decades, 1990 (plaster version exhibited).
Santa Fe, Laura Carpenter Fine Art, Louise Bourgeois Personages, 1940s / Installations, 1990s, 1993 (plaster version exhibited).
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures, 1994, no. 24 (plaster version illustrated).
Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum, The Locus of Memory, 1995-1996 (plaster version exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Hamburg, Deichtorhallen and Montreal, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal.Oxford, The Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, 1995 (plaster version exhibited).
Paris, Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures, enrironnements, dessins 1938-1995, 1995, p. 223 (plaster version exhibited; illustrated, p. 98).
Salzburg, Rupertinum, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures and Objects, 1996 (plaster version exhibited).
Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Escultura de Louise Bourgeois : La elegancia de la ironía, 1995-1996, no. 31 (bronze version illustrated in colour, p. 59). This exhibition later travelled to Seville, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo and Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo.
Madrid, Galerie Soledad Lorenzo, Louise Bourgeois, 1996-1997 (plaster version exhibited, bronze version illustrated, p. 26).
Seattle, The Henry Art Gallery, Inside, 1997 (plaster version exhibited).
Milan, Prada Foundation, Louise Bourgeois: Blue Days and Pink Days, 1997 (plaster version illustrated, p. 119).
Yokohama, Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, 1997-1998, no. 33 (plaster version exhibited; illustrated, p. 68).
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte – Reina Sofía, Louise Bourgeois: Memory and Architecture, 1999-2000, no. 26 (plaster version exhibited).
Kyungki-Do, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois: The Space of Memory, 2000 (plaster version exhibited; illustrated, p. 123).
Zurich, Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Louise Bourgeois: Works in Marble, 2002 (marble version exhibited; illustrated, p. 49).
Beacon, Dia Center for the Arts, Louise Bourgeois Installation at Inauguration of Dia:Beacon, 2003-long term loan (bronze version exhibited).
Zurich, Daros Exhibitions, Louise Bourgeois: Emotions Abstracted, 2004 (plaster version exhibited).
Istanbul, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, 2005-2006 (bronze version exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 131).
Seoul, Kukje Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Abstraction, 2007 (marble version exhibited; illustrated, p. 49).
London, Tate Modern, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, 2007-2009, pp. 164 and 312, no. 154 (plaster version exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 165). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art and Washington D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Hans Bellmer / Louise Bourgeois – Double Sexus: Supplemental Installation, 2010-2011 (bronze version exhibited).
Buenos Aires, Fundación Proa, Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, 2011, no. 11 (bronze version exhibited; plaster version illustrated, unpaged).
Sao Paulo, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Forbidden Desire, 2011, no. 14 (bronze version exhibited; plaster version illustrated, p. 164). This exhibition later travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna.
Doha, QMA Gallery, Katara, Louise Bourgeois: Conscious and Unconscious, 2012 (marble version exhibited; illustrated, p. 72).
Beijing, Faurschou Foundation, Louise Bourgeois: Alone and Together, 2012-2013, p. 118 (marble version exhibited; illustrated, pp. 119-121). This exhibition later travelled to Copenhagen, Faurschou Foundation.Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Louise Bourgeois: Petite Maman, 2013-2014, p. 344, no. 8 (bronze version exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 63).
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Sammlungshangung Bourgeois, 2013-2014.Munich, Haus der Kunst, Louise Bourgeois, Structures of Existence: The Cells, 2015-2016, p. 273 (bronze version exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to Moscow, The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and Bilbao, Guggenheim Bilbao.
Special notice

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Lot Essay

‘To rewind is to make a spiral. And the action demonstrates that even though time is unlimited, there is a limit to how much you can put on it. As you are tightening the spiral you must take care. If you tighten too much you risk breaking it. In this sense the spiral is a metaphor of consistency. I am consistent in my spiral. For me there is no break. There is never an interruption in the spiral because I can not stand interruptions’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in ‘P. Herkenhoff in conversation with Louise Bourgeois, transcribed and edited by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve’, in R. Storr, P. Herkenhoff, A. Schwartzman (eds.), Louise Bourgeois, London 2003, p. 12).

Louise Bourgeois’ helicoid Labyrinthine Tower is one of her best-known sculptural forms, and a tribute to the symbolic significance of the spiral in the artist’s oeuvre. Rising from its plinth with increasingly concentrated revolutions, the work spirals upwards with totemic force. Yet, here the geometric architecture of her earlier centrifugal configurations dissolves into a new drooping, biomorphic form. Cast in monumental bronze, the work was first conceived in plaster, and other examples of the sculpture are held in international museum collections, including a cast in black marble (Collection Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul) and in iron (Grey Art Gallery of NYU, New York). Executed at a pivotal juncture in her practice, 1962 saw Bourgeois’ return to the public eye after the most extended period of depression of her life. Returning to sculpture after a nine year absence, Bourgeois began to focus on the metaphor of the spiral as, in her words, a ‘study of the self’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in P. Herkenhoff, ‘Louise Bourgeois, Femme-Temps’ in Louise Bourgeois: Blue Days and Pink Days, exh. cat., Fondazione Prada, Milan, 1997, p. 273). Bourgeois’ art inextricably entwines personal experience and artistic expression. For over seven decades, she used sculpture as a means to excavate the painful memories and deeply repressed issues that had conditioned her youth. Attracted to the variable dimensions and repetitious quality of the spiral, for Bourgeois its coiled torsion evoked the unravelling of her tormented psyche. She observed, ‘To rewind is to make a spiral. And the action demonstrates that even though time is unlimited, there is a limit to how much you can put on it. As you are tightening the spiral you must take care. If you tighten too much you risk breaking it. In this sense the spiral is a metaphor of consistency. I am consistent in my spiral. For me there is no break. There is never an interruption in the spiral because I can not stand interruptions’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in ‘P. Herkenhoff in conversation with Louise Bourgeois, transcribed and edited by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve’, in R. Storr, P. Herkenhoff, A. Schwartzman (eds.), Louise Bourgeois, London 2003, p. 12).

From 1962 Bourgeois dispensed with wood as her primary material and began to explore the initially liquid properties of plaster. From these experiments emerged the first of her centripetal Lairs, towers of Mayan proportions, which rise with primitive grandeur from base to summit, simultaneously grounded and aerial. For many years Bourgeois took on the household responsibility of winding the clocks around her home, learning to conflate this domestic task with stability. In her works of the early-1960s the spiral issues a distinctly female architecture that is founded in cohesion. ‘There is’, she says, ‘a feminine geometry. A torsade is something that revolves around an axis. This geometry is founded on poetic freedom and promises security’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in ‘P. Herkenhoff in conversation with Louise Bourgeois, transcribed and edited by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve’, in R. Storr, P. Herkenhoff, A. Schwartzman (eds.), Louise Bourgeois, London 2003, p. 11). Evoking the organic growth of a geological formation, Labyrinthine Tower appears to be in constant flux. Yet, as it reaches the pinnacle of its evolution its rigorous facture softens, embodying the dialectic of hard and soft that defines Bourgeois’ concern with the mutability of gender. Interrogating sexual identity and its relation to the body as an unstable projection of the psyche, Labyrinthine Tower echoes Surrealist combinations of the male and the female within a single amorphous identity. She states, ‘I am not particularly aware or interested in the erotic of my work, in spite of its supposed presence. Since I am exclusively concerned, at least consciously, with the formal perfection, I allow myself to follow blindly the images that suggest themselves to me. There is no conflict whatsoever between these two level’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in ‘William Rubin – Louise Bourgeois: Questions and Answers’, in M.-L. Beradac, H.-U. Obrist (eds.), Louise Bourgeois: Destruction of the Father Reconstruction of the Father, Writings and Interviews 1923-1997, London 2000, p. 86). In Labyrinthine Tower Bourgeois upends the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, a tale that chronicles the destruction of a dark force that resides at the heart of an impenetrable maze. Here, the artist explores the legend as a metaphor for those dark forces at work in the tormented mind, yet her labyrinth ascends skywards; neither fully extended nor entirely collapsed, its direction remains intentionally unclear. ‘The spiral’, she has said, ‘is an attempt at controlling the chaos. It has two directions. Where do you place yourself, at the periphery or at the vortex?’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in M-L. Bernadac, Louise Bourgeois, Paris 2007, p. 67).

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