Louise Bourgeois, American, Still Life, 1963, Wood, paint, plaster; 29.8 x 50.2 x 48.3 cm (11 3/4 x 19 3/4 x 19 inches), Museum Works of Art Fund 66.163
Louise Bourgeois’s career so far spans more than sixty years. Born in Paris, Bourgeois moved in 1938 to New York, where she exhibited her paintings alongside the Abstract Expressionists and, in the 1940s, began experimenting with sculpture. Influenced by Surrealism, she developed her own primitivistic style in a variety of materials and techniques. In Still Life, using simplified shapes to suggest organic forms, she explored the tension between painting and sculpture, figuration and abstraction. Bourgeois painted the three-dimensional elements black and white, a contrast to the colorful, illusionistic conventions characteristic of traditional still-life painting. This sculpture, ostensibly a bowl of fruit accompanied by two loaves of bread, prefigures Bourgeois’s later work, which refers to male and female body parts more directly.