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Louise Bourgeois's Cell (glass spheres and hands)

The making of art enables Louise Bourgeois to organise complex and acutely felt emotional responses to her life experiences: from those as a child growing up in France, to those as an immigrant in New York, and as a wife, mother and artist. Cell (glass spheres and hands) is a major work from a series of Cells and Rooms that Bourgeois commenced in 1989. Referring to the cell both as a single unit of life and as a place of containment or constraint, Bourgeois here represents her family. Each person exists as a glass sphere, isolated from the rest of the group and eternally closed off from interpersonal communication. The hands represent Bourgeois herself. Like other fragments of anatomy that appear consistently in her work, they are an intense concentration of emotion, here of helplessness. The artist’s isolation is a torment. 

Jason Smith