Louise Bourgeois, Cell (Hands and Mirror), 1995. Marble, metal, and mirror, 63 x 48 x 45 inches (160 x 121.9 x 114.3 cm). Gift of Barbara Lee, The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
One of the most influential artists of the last century, Louise Bourgeois has produced a distinctive oeuvre over her seventy-year career, combining abstraction and figuration and a wide array of media to explore sexuality, the body, everyday life, and trauma.
Cell (Hands and Mirror) is from a series of large-scale sculptures Bourgeois made when she was in her eighties. Each “cell” is a room that viewers are prompted to peer into, where they discover highly symbolic arrangements of sculptures and found objects. In Cell (Hands and Mirror), the interior walls are painted blue, and two realistically sculpted arms rest on a piece of marble and press into each one another. The color, forms, and inclusion of mirrors imply a clinical and inhospitable environment, in which the dismembered body parts are submitted to scrutiny and voyeurism.
Since introducing Bourgeois to Boston audiences in a 1953 group exhibition, the ICA/Boston has featured her work in a number of exhibitions, including the major 2007–08 solo show titled Bourgeois in Boston. This work joins the ICA’s rich collection of sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and adds to the holdings of figurative sculptures by such artists as Rachel Harrison, Juan Muñoz, and Kiki Smith. It can also be seen as a precursor to contemporary installation-based work, represented in the ICA collection by such artists as Hito Steyerl.