Louise Bourgeois began to create her Cells when she was over 70. For this series, she constructed intimate architectural spaces in which movement was possible, and which were meant to be places of self-discovery, and spaces which adapted to her scale. (She was small and slight.) The Cells structures were organized by diverse architectural elements, including doors, windows, stairs, and wire meshes. These elements sometimes came from derelict buildings or Bourgeois’s own house or studio. The Cells both separate and connect the outside world from the inside, and contain strong symbolism.

The house, another frequent architectural element in the artist’s imagery, is simultaneously presented as a refuge and a jail, a place that offers us protection and also imprisons us. At times, women are also synonymous with houses in her work.

1. How would it feel to look inside the Cells?

2. For Bourgeois, marble was a therapeutic material. What qualities would you attribute to the materials that make up the Cells?

3. How does Bourgeois manage to connect the interior and exterior of her Cells?

Cell (Choisy), 1990-93
Marble, metal and glass
306.1 x 170.2 x 241.3 cm
Collection Glenstone
Photo: Maximilian Geuter
© The Easton Foundation / VEGAP, Madrid