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Janus in Leather Jacket

Janus in Leather Jacket
incised with the artist’s initials, number and date ‘L.B. 4/6 92’ and stamped with the Modern Art Foundry mark ‘MAF’ (on the underside)
11 1/8 x 23 x 5 3/8in. (28.5 x 53.5 x 13.5cm.)
Conceived in 1968 and cast in 1992, this work is number four from an edition of six plus one artist’s proof
The Artist.
Cheim & Read, New York.
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in 2007).
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 29 June 2016, lot 33.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Howell (ed.), Breakthroughs: Avant-Garde Artists in Europe and America, 1950-1990, New York 1991, p. 298 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 99).
R. E. Krauss, Bachelors, Cambridge 1999, p. 55 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 56).
M. Bal, Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The architecture of art-writing, London 2001, p. 66.
R. Storr, P. Herkenhoff and A. Schwartzman (eds.), Louise Bourgeois, London 2003, p. 118 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 119).
M. Nixon, Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art, London 2005, p. 326, no.6.21 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 244).
C. Pommereau (ed.), ‘Louise Bourgeois au Centre Pompidou: Beaux-Arts éditions’, in Beaux-Arts magazine special edition, March 2008 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 32).
M. Bösenberg, 40 Years, Galerie Karsten Greve Cologne, 20 Years, Galerie Karsten Greve. Paris, 10 Years, Galerie Karsten Greve AG. St. Moritz, Cologne 2009, pp. 12 and 120 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 13).
R. Storr, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois, New York 2016 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 338).
M-L, Bernadac (ed.), Louise Bourgeois and Pablo Picasso: Anatomies of Desire, Zurich, Hauser & Wirth, 2019, p. 240 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 233).
New York, 112 Greene Street, Louise Bourgeois: Sculpture 1970-1974, 1974 (another from the edition exhibited).
Los Angeles, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, 1984 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, Pat Hearn Gallery, Sculpture, 1987 (another from the edition exhibited).
Boston, Grossman Gallery, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Undercurrents: Rituals and Translations, 1987 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Louise Bourgeois Sculpture, 1989 (another from the edition exhibited).
Seattle, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Louise Bourgeois: Works from 1943-1987, 1988-1989 (another from the edition exhibited).
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1989-1991, p. 188, no. 64 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated, p. 124). This exhibition later travelled to Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau; Lyon, Musée d’Art Contemporain; Barcelona, Fundación Tàpies; Bern, Kunstmuseum and Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum.
Denver, Ginny Williams Gallery, Bourgeois: Four Decades, 1990 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, David Zwirner Gallery, Coming to Power, 1993 (another from the edition exhibited).
Denver, Ginny Williams Family Foundation, Louise Bourgeois, 1993-1994 (another from the edition exhibited).
Salzburg, Salzburger Kunstverein, Real Sex, 1993 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 67).
Philadelphia, Locks Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, 1994 (another from the edition exhibited).
Helsinki, Nyktaiteen Museo, ARS 95 Helsinki, 1995 (another from the edition exhibited).
Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Escultura de Louise Bourgeois : La Elegancia de la Ironía, 1995-1996, p. 91, no. 45 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated, p. 68). This exhibition later travelled to Seville, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo and Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo.
Curitiba, Fundação Cultural de Curitiba, XI Mostra da Gravura de Curitiba/Mostra America, 1995 (another from the edition exhibited).
Yokohama, Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, 1997-1998, no. 44 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated, p. 76).
Reykjavik, Reykjavik Arts Festival, 1998 (another from the edition exhibited).
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Louise Bourgeois: Memory and Architecture, 1999-2000, pp. 176 and 377, no. 37 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 177).
Seoul, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Louise Bourgeois: The Space of Memory, 2000, p. 138, no. 34 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 139).
Beacon, Dia Center for the Arts, Louise Bourgeois Installation at Inauguration of Dia: Beacon, 2003-2012 (another from the edition on extended loan).
Castello, Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló, Micropolitics III: Art and Everyday Life, 2003 (illustrated in colour, p. 76).
Havana, Wilfredo Lam Center, Louise Bourgeois: One and Others, 2005 (another from the edition exhibited; installation view illustrated, unpaged).
Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, Louise Bourgeois: Femme, 2006 (another from the edition exhibited).
Venice, Palazzo Fortuny, Artempo: Where Time becomes Art, 2007, no. 10 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour in the introduction, unpaged, and p. 71).
London, Tate Modern, Louise Bourgeois: Retrospective, 2007-2009, p. 312, fig. 151 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 162). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art and Washington, D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Louise Bourgeois for Capodimonte, 2008-2009 (another from the edition exhibited; installation view illustrated, pp. 51-52; illustrated in colour, p. 62).
Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Louise Bourgeois: A Stretch of Time, 2009 (another from the edition exhibited).
Berlin, Deutsches Historisches Museum and Schwules Museum, Homosexualities, 2015-2016, p. 219 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 132). This exhibition later travelled to Münster, Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe Museum für Kunst und Kultur.
New York, Maccarone Gallery, Coming to Power, 2016 (another from the edition exhibited).
Germany, Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken, In the Cut – Der männliche Körper in der Feministischen Kunst, 2018 (another from the edition exhibited).
London, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Artists I Steal From, 2019 (another from the edition exhibited).
St. Moritz, Galerie Karsten Greve AG, Louise Bourgeois, 2021 (another from the edition exhibited).
Monaco, Hauser & Wirth, Louise Bourgeois, Maladie de lAmour, 2021 (another from the edition exhibited).
Marseille, Centre de la Vieille Charité, Le Surréalisme dans l'art américain, p. 180, no. 130 (illustrated in colour, p.136) 2021 (another from the edition exhibited).
Monaco, Hauser & Wirth, Bodily Abstractions, 2022 (another from the edition exhibited).
Ireland, Lismore Castle Arts, girls girls girls, 2022 (another from the edition exhibited).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

A mirrored pair of swelling, organic forms clothed in a lustrous, sharp-edged mantle, Louise Bourgeois’s hanging bronze Janus in Leather Jacket revolves slowly in space. Its merger of sexual symbols—collapsing such polarities as male and female, penis and breast, soft and hard—is typical of the artist’s work, which takes a deep dive into the fundamental forms of the human psyche. Conceived in 1968 after Bourgeois’s first visit to Pietrasanta, Italy—a transitional moment for her work in marble and bronze—it is one of four important works from her Janus series, alongside JanusHanging Janus with Jacket and Janus fleuri (versions in Tate, London and the Museum of Modern Art, New York). Named for the two-faced Roman god of oppositions, gates, openings, transitions and beginnings, these nuanced bronzes are charged with the primal physicality, emotive presence and psychosexual intrigue that define Bourgeois’s sculptural practice.

As befits its titular deity, Janus in Leather Jacket is a body of oppositions. Juxtaposed with the sharp wings of the ‘leather jacket’, the work’s soft appendages appear both limp and tumescent, hanging vulnerably yet poised like pincers. By sheathing the object in this garment, Bourgeois introduces a sense of obscuring and revelation, with the idea of leather—enhanced in the bronze’s dark patina—adding a playful hint of fetishism. The major 2022 retrospective Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child at the Hayward Gallery, London, examined the role of textiles and clothing in her work, and Janus in Leather Jacket can be seen to invoke similar narrative themes of costume and self-portraiture. Hanging from a thread with its claw-like palps, it also echoes the iconic spider motif that represents Bourgeois’s mother in monumental works such as Maman (1999), which figure the arachnid as a benevolent weaver.

The sculpture’s ambiguity is heightened by its suspension from a wire, which offers a constantly shifting viewpoint as it rotates. ‘Hanging is important,’ Bourgeois has said, ‘because it allows things to turn around. It is very helpless, it changes the hierarchy of the work; the base disappears’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in F. Bonami, ‘In a Strange Way, Things are Getting Better and Better,’ Flash Art, vol. XXVII no. 174, January 1994, p. 39). Unfixed and metamorphic, the work spins freely back and forth, presenting a ‘double movement of turning inwards (signifying retreat and withdrawal) and outwards (signifying acceptance, an opening up to life)’ (L. Bourgeois, quoted in Louise Bourgeois, exh. cat. Tate Modern, London 2007, p. xx).

Bourgeois’s art is indivisible from her life story. She suffered a deep-seated trauma stemming from her father’s affair with her English governess, as well as the illness and untimely death of her mother in 1932. These events resulted in a conflicting sense of her own sexuality that is evident in her very earliest work, and was articulated ever more eloquently as she explored the overlapping roles of artist, mother and wife over the following decades. Janus in Leather Jacket brings together these ideas in a complex of dualities: it is at once open and closed, seductive and threatening, rawly revealing and deeply enigmatic. Poised at the intersections of sex, life, art and subconscious, it can be seen as a form of physical autobiography, bringing the ambiguous shapes of an emotional interior into the world, and containing—like a chrysalis—both the past and the future.

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