Can you tell me more about this piece?
Louise Bourgeois is a very important 20th century sculptor and many of her works refer to the human body in one way or another. I like its placement next to works of art that show artists at work, painting or sculpting live human models. She was influenced by Surrealism, and many of her works have a symbolic or dream-like quality. She turned to the subject of hands later in her life and made a number of works showing hands. Sometimes she showed hands touching each other but here, they are just relaxed. As an artist, of course, she used her hands to create constantly they were her tools.
What the heck?!
The hands are by a Louise Bourgeois who often shows interest in the human body, surrealism and sexuality. These hands are actually modeled after her own hands.
This is really creepy!
I am wondering what you see in the Louise Bourgeois piece that makes you say creepy--is it the disembodied hands? Or maybe their gesture?
I guess it's because they are disembodied. Also, it reminds me of memento mori and vanitas pieces.
The Bourgeois piece is interesting because the title means to "relax" or "let go" in French, so it has ambiguous implications. But many people have read that piece as a self-portrait of Bourgeois , as if she has finished sculpting and the hands and can let go.
What's going on here?
This sculpture by Louise Bourgeois features the artist's own hands and forearms. She frequently depicts the human body, or parts of it, in her works. How does this sculpture strike you?
It seems to evoke powerlessness.
Interesting, why do you say that?
Because the owner of those hands is now handless!
Oh I see, as if the hands have physically come off of someone--it is eerie how Bourgeois chose to "end" the hands and how she did it so bluntly, as if they were chopped off.
Tell me more.
Beginning in the late 1970s, Bourgeois began drawing and sculpting the hands of her assistant and best friend, Jerry Gorovoy.
Oftentimes, she sculpts her own hands lovingly holding those of Jerry, a poignant symbol of friendship. Here, Bourgeois depicts just her own two hands.
Bourgeois first studied sculpture in the 1930s with Charles Despiau, one of Rodin's assistants. Her interest in the medium was renewed in the 1960s after visiting the same marble quarries where Michelangelo acquired his material.
Whose hands are these?
These are the hands of the artist herself, Louise Bourgeois!
The title, "décontractée" means relaxed, or released. Here, the hands appear almost as tools, resting until the artist picks them up again and puts them to work.
Bourgeois has also sculpted the hands of her assistant, as well as made sculptures of her hands holding his, as a symbol of friendship and collaboration.
Who’s hands are in the Louise Bourgeois marble piece?
These are Louise Bourgeois' own hands!
Here, relaxed and removed from the arm and body, the hands appear as tools of the artist, as if they are waiting to be picked up and put to use.
Bourgeois also has sculpted the hands of her assistant, Jerry Gorovoy, as well as made sculptures of her hands holding his in a symbol of friendship and collaboration.
Is "Decontractée" Bourgeois' only work that sparkles? What is the psychological symbolism of the relaxed hands?
I don't think it is her only work that sparkles, because it is the material that gives the sculpture this quality, and Bourgeois has made other works using pink marble.
As for the psychological symbolism, you may know that much of Bourgeois's work delves into memory and interior emotion. Here, the hands may be celebrated as the tools of the artist, perhaps resting between projects, waiting to be "picked up" for the next art-making job. These are in fact Louise Bourgeois's own hands.
I'll add that the title translates to "relaxed" which you picked up on in the state of the hands depicted here.
Amazing! This is so helpful and so cool! Thank you!