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Enduring Threads: The Collection of Jacques and Emy Cohenca


incised with the artist's signature, title and number 'SPRING LOUISE BOURGEOIS 2/7' (on the base)
bronze, painted white
60 x 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (152.4 x 29.2 x 29.2 cm.)
Conceived in 1948-1949 and executed in 1960. This work is number two from an edition of six plus one artist's proof.
Robert Miller Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above the late owner, 1982
W. Andersen, American Sculpture in Process: 1930/1970, Boston, 1975, p. 93, fig. 3b (wood version illustrated).
W. Zimmer, "Sculpture at the Whitney," New York Times, 21 July 1985, p. 18.
Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Robert Miller Gallery, 1986, n.p. (wood version illustrated).
C. Haenlein, ed., Louise Bourgeois Sculptures and Installations, Kestner-Gesellschaft, 1994, n.p., no. 11 (another example illustrated).
M. L. Bernadac, Louise Bourgeois, Paris, 1996, p. 60 and 174.
Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Milan, Fondazione Prada, 1997, p. 104 and 158 (wood version illustrated).
L. Bourgeois, Louise Bourgeois, Cologne, 1999, pp. 50-51 (another example illustrated).
Louise Bourgeois: The Early Work, exh. cat., Champaign, Krannert Art Museum, 2002, pp. 17, 19, 23 and 35, fig. 10 and 15 (wood version illustrated on the cover).
M. Nixon, Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art, Cambridge, 2005, p. 120, fig. 4.1 (wood version illustrated).
Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, 2007, p. 33, fig. 17 (another example illustrated).
Galerie Karsten Greve: 40 Years, Cologne; 20 Years, Paris; 10 Years, St. Moritz, Cologne, 2009, p. 126 (another example illustrated).
Art of Another Kind: International Abstraction and the Guggenheim, 1949-1960, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2012, p. 58, fig. 17 (another example illustrated).
Louise Bourgeois: The Personages, exh. cat., Seoul, Kukje Gallery, 2012, pp. 23, 33, 34, 37, 42, 79, 80 and 84 (wood version illustrated).
I. Müller-Westermann, ed., Louise Bourgeois: I Have Been to Hell and Back, exh. cat., Stockholm, Moderna Museet, 2015, p. 235, no. 54 (wood version illustrated).
R. Storr, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois, New York, 2016, pp. 134, 233, 305, 318 and 533 (wood version illustrated).
M. L. Bernadac, ed., Louise Bourgeois and Pablo Picasso: Anatomies of Desire, Zurich, 2019, p. 156 (wood version illustrated).
New York, Peridot Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures, October 1950 (wood version exhibited).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1956 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture, Watercolors and Drawings, April-June 1956, no. 6 (wood version exhibited).
Paris, Galerie Claude Bernard, Aspects de la Sculpture Américaine, September-October 1960 (another example exhibited).
Paris, Musée Rodin, Les Etats-Unis: Sculpture du XX Siècle, April-May 1965 (another example exhibited).
New York, Xavier Fourcade Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Sculpture 1941-1953 Plus One New Piece, September-October 1979 (wood version exhibited).
University of Chicago, The Renaissance Society, Louise Bourgeois: Femme Maison, May-June 1981, n.p., no. 17 (wood version and another example exhibited and illustrated).
New York, Museum of Modern Art; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art and Akron Art Museum, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, November 1982-January 1984, pp. 37, 54, 55 and 60, pl. 1, 39, 42 and 59 (wood version and another example exhibited and illustrated).
Southampton, Parrish Art Museum, Forming, July-September 1984, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Los Angeles, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, November-December 1984 (another example exhibited).
Paris and Zurich, Galerie Maeght-Lelong, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective 1947-1984, February-May 1985, pp. 15 and 29, no. 8 (wood version and another example exhibited and illustrated).
London, Serpentine Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, May-June 1985 (another example exhibited).
Stamford, Whitney Museum of American Art, Affiliations: Recent Sculpture and Its Antecedents, June-August 1985 (another example exhibited).
New York, Galerie Maeght-Lelong, Group Show, May-June 1987 (another example exhibited).
Baltimore, George Dalsheimer Gallery, Contemporary Sculpture, October 1987 (another example exhibited).
San Francisco, Gallery Paule Anglim, Louise Bourgeois: Sculpture 1947-1955, November-December 1987 (another example exhibited).
Chicago, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Selected Works 1946-1989, September-October 1989 (another example exhibited).
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein; Munich, Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Lyon, Musée d’art Contemporain; Barcelona, Fundación Tàpies; Kunstmuseum Bern and Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum, Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, December 1989-July 1991, p. 53, no. 13 (another example exhibited and illustrated; Lyon: pp. 46 and 55, no. 13 (another example exhibited and illustrated)).
Santa Monica, Linda Cathcart Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Bronze Sculpture and Drawings, February-March 1990 (another example exhibited).
Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz, The Origins of Modern Art, May-July 1990 (another example exhibited).
Vienna, Galerie Krinzinger Wien, Louise Bourgeois 1939-89 Skulpturen und Zeichnungen, May-June 1990 (another example exhibited).
Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Louise Bourgeois: Bronzes of the 1940s and 1950s, October-November 1990 (another example exhibited).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, June-August 1992 (another example exhibited).
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures, September-October 1994, n.p., no. 11 (another example exhibited).
The Saint Louis Art Museum, Louise Bourgeois: The Personages, June-August 1994, p. 54, no. 17 (wood version exhibited and illustrated).
Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, November 1997-January 1998, p. 59, pl. 24 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Landesgalerie Linz, Sculpture - Figure - Woman, April-May 1998 (another example exhibited).
Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle, Frauenmacht und Mannerherrschaft im Kulturvergleich, November 1997-March 1998 (another example exhibited).
Hanover, Dartmouth College, Jaffe-Friede & Strauss Galleries, Louise Bourgeois, February-March 1999 (another example exhibited).
Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Artworlds in Dialogue, October 1999-April 2000 (another example exhibited).
New York, C&M Arts, Louise Bourgeois: The Personages, April-June 2001, n.p., no. 12 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum; Helsinki City Art Museum; Stockholm, Kulturhuset; Oslo, Museet for Samtidskunst and Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois, October 2001-June 2003, pp. 42-43 (another example exhibited and illustrated; Humlebaek: pp. 28 and 72, no. 15 (another example exhibited and illustrated)).
Havana, Wifredo Lam Center, Louise Bourgeois: One and Others, February-April 2005 (another example exhibited).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, June 2008-May 2009 (another example exhibited).
Städtische Museen Jena, Louise Bourgeois: Sculpture, Drawings and Prints, September-November 2010, p. 43 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Reykjavik, National Gallery of Iceland, Louise Bourgeois: Kona / Femme, May-September 2011, n.p., no. 2 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Further details
Spring is an edition of six plus one artist's proof. Bourgeois originally referred to the overall edition size as seven, which accounts for the number '2/7' on the base. Later casts are numbered out of six, when the artist moved to referring to the overall edition size as 'edition of six plus one artist's proof.'

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Conceived in 1948-1949, just after Louise Bourgeois’s first solo exhibition in 1945 and during her transition to life in New York City, Spring emerged from an already innovative and fearless mind. Bourgeois is undoubtedly one of the most individual and ground-breaking artists of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, and her oeuvre has resonated with multiple generations of artists and thinkers globally. Spring is an example of the unparalleled aesthetic sensibilities that fueled a career of nearly six decades. Her work and life were always intertwined, and this generosity cemented her place in history as a generous, rigorous, and introspective artist. As Bourgeois muses, “I like to be a glass house. There is no mask in my work. Therefore, as an artist, all I can share with other people is this transparency” (P. Herkenhoff, “An Interview with Louise Bourgeois,” Artspace, 2003, https://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/book_report/louise-bourgeois-phaidon-folio-54962). Residing in the same private collection for the past 40 years, the present work is a pivotal example of that transparency.

Though Bourgeois is perhaps best known for her Spider sculptures, works like Spring are equally influential and magnificent in their tender, anthropomorphic presence. Reminiscent of stacked cowry shells or perhaps a totem of the female form, the present work is both accessible and mysterious, tangible and surreal. At six feet tall, it mirrors the viewer, drawing us into a fantastical, primordial composition. Spring is perhaps a portrait, but not of a discernable entity. We see ourselves in the sculpture’s sensuous forms, and yet they are otherworldly at the same time. Rendered in cast bronze with a white patina (it is common for artists to conceive of a sculpture and cast it later), Spring is lustrous and detailed like an ancient bust, even as it simultaneously recalls the towering buildings of Bourgeois’s chosen home of New York. Bourgeois recalls, “I thought New York was beautiful, a cruel beauty in its blue sky, white light and skyscrapers” (R. Marshall, "Interview with Louise Bourgeois, August 23, 2007," Whitewall, no. 8, Winter 2008, p. 8). Additionally, one of Bourgeois’s most cherished memories was weaving with her mother, and we can see a similarly precise facture in the layered composition of Spring. Indeed, “[I]t was her gift for universalizing her interior life as a complex spectrum of sensations that made her art so affecting” (H. Cotter, “Louise Bourgeois, Influential Sculptor, Dies at 98,” New York Times, May 31, 2010, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/arts/design/01bourgeois.html).

Spring is among the most striking sculptures from Bourgeois’s Personages series, which occupied her in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Anticipating both performance and installation art, Bourgeois installed these sculptures in groups directly into the gallery floor, turning the show into what she called an "environment." The Personages could also refer to the uncanny admixtures of Dada. Though Bourgeois is distinct from the Surrealists, especially interesting in this context are the tactile, bodily objects created by Meret Oppenheim and Salvador Dalí. One might also look to Alexander Calder’s studies of gravity and motion in sculpture; likewise, Spring, with all its delicacy, seems as if it could come to life. It is no mistake that writer Grace Glueck argued of the Personages, “These works can now be seen as part of a powerful body of work that has brought an inspired personal vision to American sculpture” (G. Glueck, “Art in Review: Louise Bourgeois—The Personages,” New York Times, April 27, 2001, https://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/27/arts/art-in-review-louise-bourgeois-the-personages.html).

Bourgeois was born in 1911 in Paris to parents who owned a tapestry restoration business. She initially studied mathematics at the Sorbonne, but soon pivoted to art classes. Famed painter Fernand Léger encouraged her to consider sculpture, and, to supplement her studies, Bourgeois worked as a docent at the Louvre. She went on to operate her own small gallery space within her family's sales gallery and sold prints and drawings by Pierre Bonnard, Amedeo Modigliani, and Suzanne Valadon, though she perhaps could never have imagined that she would join the venerated ranks of art history alongside them. Bourgeois moved to New York in 1938, where she befriended the Abstract Expressionists: Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock. Her career and reputation only continued to expand as she reached her 70s, and she enjoyed her first retrospective, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1982. It was the first retrospective at MoMA for a woman sculptor. Later in life, Bourgeois was known for hosting young artists in her Chelsea home, offering critique and community during her Sunday Salons. By the time of her death in 2010, she was an icon for countless artists. One such acolyte is Tracey Emin, with whom Bourgeois collaborated toward the end of her life. Of Bourgeois’s final years art historian Mignon Nixon eulogizes, “In the end, Bourgeois…concentrate[d] on the psychic facts of life, to be alive” (M. Nixon, “Losing Louise,” October, Fall 2010, p. 132). Bourgeois’s aesthetic aims were always this vast, which comes through in her prescient sculptures like Spring.

“You pile up associations the way you pile up bricks. Memory itself is a form of architecture.” - Louise Bourgeois

Bourgeois's perennial influence is the result of a storied career that changed the course of art history. After her first retrospective brought more attention to her career, Bourgeois participated in documenta IX in 1992, and went on to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale the following year. After her first retrospective brought more attention to her career, Bourgeois participated in documenta IX in 1992, and went on to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale the following year. Bourgeois was awarded the first ever Turbine Hall commission at the Tate Modern, London in 2000, and her 2007 retrospective at Tate toured around the world. Later this year, an exhibition of more than 150 works by Bourgeois will be on view at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.

Louise Bourgeois is undoubtedly one of postwar art’s most revered sculptors, as well as one of the most important artists of late Modernism. Critical acclaim came late for Bourgeois, but her awe-inspiring artistic output was tireless and driven not by a desire for success, but rather by an unwavering artistic vision. Spring, as evocative and imaginative as a poem or a fairy tale, sits between worlds and draws us into a completely new space. In viewing it, we experience ourselves in new ways, and we likewise see history anew. Spring, like the thawing beauty of its namesake, is hopeful and fecund. Bourgeois’s work continues to be central to how we imagine sculpture.

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