cell the last climb
Past exhibition

“Space does not exist; it is just a metaphor for the structure of our existence.” Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Working with a wide range of materials and forms, she created a body of work that extended over seven decades.

Over her long career as an artist, Louise Bourgeois developed concepts and formal inventions that later became key positions in contemporary art; these included the use of environmental installation and theatrical formats, and the engagement with psychoanalytic and feminist themes. Both her distinctive sculptural forms and her outstanding drawings and graphic works are second to none. Among the most innovative and sophisticated sculptural works in her extensive oeuvre are the Cells, a series of architectural spaces that deal with a range of emotions. Created over a span of two decades, the Cells present individual microcosms; each is an enclosure that separates the internal from the external world. In these unique spaces, the artist arranged found objects, clothes, furniture, and sculptures to create emotionally charged, theatrical sets.

Including the five precursor works to the Cells that first emerged in 1986 with Articulated Lair, Louise Bourgeois created approximately 60 Cells over the course of her career. This exhibition is the largest overview of this body of work to date.

Cell (The Last Climb), 2008
Steel, glass, rubber, thread and wood
384.8 x 400.1 x 299.7 cm
Collection National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo: Christopher Burke
© The Easton Foundation / VEGAP, Madrid


Captura de pantalla 2021 03 02 a las 10 08 18

1911 Born on December 25.

1923 Begins to help out at her parents’ tapestry workshop.

1932 After earning her baccalauréat, enrolls at the Sorbonne to study mathematics, but later abandons that discipline for art. In subsequent years, attends various Parisian art schools, including the École des Beaux-Arts, Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, and École du Louvre, and works in the studios of a number of different artists, including Roger Bissière, André Lhote, and Fernand Léger.

Takes a trip to the Soviet Union.

More about the artist

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These contents are part of a specific Didaktika project called “The Universe of Louise Bourgeois”. It sheds light on the life and oeuvre of one of the most influential contemporary artists, whose long-standing creativity is closely tied to her personal experiences.
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the person

“My name is Louise Josephine Bourgeois. I was born on December 25, 1911, in Paris. All my work in the past fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood. My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.”
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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.
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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.)
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The importance of the phyche

Louise Bourgeois’s Cells contain a strong emotional and psychological charge. In them, fundamental feelings are represented, including love, hate, frustration, and admiration. This approach allows the artist to reflect on the often ambiguous and contradictory nature of human emotions. The Cells also deal with fear.
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Personal memory

Memory and autobiography are important components in Bourgeois’s Cells. Her work has an autobiographical approach that emphasizes the significance of her childhood, a period in which magic, mystery, and family drama intermingled in a crucial way in her life.
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