The Human Body
The Human Body

The human body frequently appears in the works of Louise Bourgeois. Often split apart and then put back together, the body is used as a metaphor for our memory, which treats our experiences in an equally fragmented way. The artist frequently uses parts of the body that are found in pairs—like arms, legs, ears, and breasts—to express our dependence on others as well as the duality and/or polarity of humans. Sometimes, the human body is represented by symbols, like spheres or spirals, portrayed as the original forms of our existence. Sexuality is another constant theme in her work, and acts as a catalyst for emotions, representing them through the body’s shape and functions.

1. What do the fragments of the body, presented in these works, wish to communicate?

2. If you had to create a self-portrait using one part of your body, what would you choose and why?

3. What is body language? Our gestures speak for us.

Cell II, 1991 (detail)
Painted wood, marble, steel, glass and mirror
210.8 x 152.4 x 152.4 cm
Collection Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Photo: Peter Bellamy
© The Easton Foundation / VEGAP, Madrid