Louise Bourgeois


Clare Davies and Briony Fer

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An unprecedented look at the little-known paintings from Louise Bourgeois’s early years in New York that laid the groundwork for her sculptural practice

Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) is celebrated today for her sculptures. Less known—and the focus of this publication—is the body of paintings produced by the artist between her arrival in New York in 1938 and her turn to three-dimensional media in 1949. Crucial to her artistic practice, these early works—rarely seen or exhibited—show Bourgeois’s deeply personal artistic lexicon. Themes and motifs explored in her paintings coalesced into those that she would continue to mine during her decades-long career: the clock, the spiral, the Femme Maison (a woman’s body with a house for a head), and the columnar figures that heralded her totemic Personage sculptures. Informed by new archival research and the artist’s extensive diaries, the book’s essays and illustrated chronology explore Bourgeois’s relationship to the New York art world of the 1940s—transformed by the arrival of European Surrealists and the emergence of the New York School—and her development of a pictorial language combining abstraction, figuration, and storytelling.

Clare Davies is assistant curator of modern and contemporary art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Briony Fer is professor of the history of art at University College London.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(April 11–August 7, 2022)

New Orleans Museum of Art
(September 8, 2022–January 8, 2023)

ISBN: 9781588397485
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Publishing Partner: Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press
192 pages, 9 x 10
120 color illus.
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