May 23 –June 29, 2012
Kukje Gallery is very pleased to present a unique historical exhibition of Louise Bourgeois sculptures. Titled Personages, this will be Bourgeois’ fifth solo exhibition at the Gallery since her first show in 2002. The current exhibition also marks the first show in Korea after her passing in 2010 at the age of 99. Bourgeois is widely celebrated as one of the twentieth century’s most important artists and her studio practice was characterized by an unwavering commitment to experimentation and multimedia work. She mastered genres as diverse as sculpture, drawing, installation and textiles—an eclecticism that both defines her genius and makes her significant formal and historical contributions defy easy categorization. The exhibition features early work created by Bourgeois from the 1940s through the early 1950s, with a focus on the eponymously named totemic works known as Personages.
The Personages were first shown as an environmental installation at the Peridot Gallery in New York City, in 1949 and in subsequent exhibitions there in 1950 and 1953. Free standing and life sized, these uncanny anthropomorphic works are a haunting symbolic representation of the artist’s family and friends whom she left behind in Paris when she moved to New York in 1938. The anxieties and emotional void she felt as a new wife, mother, and as a young artist in a strange city, are all embodied by these surrogate works. Described by Bourgeois as her first mature artistic effort, the Personages firmly established her as an important sculptor in post-war America.
Louise Bourgeois’ Personages sculptures are largely separated into two distinct groups. The early sculptures are characterized by simple and concise shapes that were sculpted from a single wood block, while the later works, made in the 1950s, developed into more structurally complex forms with repetitive shapes that resemble a modular armature and create a sense of dynamic movement. Bourgeois deliberately displayed her sculptures directly on the ground rejecting the more conservative traditional solution of using a pedestal. By presenting the works without a base, Bourgeois wanted to make vertically assertive objects in space with which the viewer could engage directly. Walking around these tall, upright, anthropomorphic sculptures, viewers both experience the physical materiality of the objects and, more importantly, relate to the sculptures within the space.
This exhibition aims to broaden the knowledge of Bourgeois’ artistic evolution by showing some of her early iconic works in addition to a single installation from her later, better known series, Cells. The Cells series explores reoccurring themes often found in Bourgeois’ works such as the meaning of “family” and “home”. Using a combination of body parts and found objects, the artist represents the complexity of domestic relationships by creating theatrical installations that alternate between benevolent feelings of protection and more ominous fears of oppression. The work’s title Peaux de Lapins, Chiffons Ferrailles À Vendre (2006) refers to the traditional song of the street peddlers Bourgeois remembered from her childhood growing up in France. Despite this fond memory, the work’s constituent elements are unsettling: flesh-colored forms hang within a wire mesh cage evoking flayed skins or prolapsed morphologically indeterminate body parts.
About the Artist
Born in Paris in 1911, Louise Bourgeois was one of the most important modern artists and her work bridges both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Her first retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1982. Since then, she exhibited in major museums around the world and was awarded the Lion d’Or at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. Bourgeois’ work can be found in major international museums and collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate Modern, London and Centre Pompidou, Paris. A comprehensive, full-career retrospective of her work was organized by the Tate Modern, London and travelled to various institutions in Europe and the US from 2007 to 2009.