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Louise Bourgeois

Pink Days and Blue Days

1997

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Artist

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)

Title

Pink Days and Blue Days

Date

1997

Medium

Steel, fabric, bone, wood, glass, rubber and mixed media

Dimensions

Overall: 117 × 87 × 87 in. (297.2 × 221 × 221 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from The Lauder Foundation, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder Fund, the Painting and Sculpture Committee, the Tom Armstrong Purchase Fund, Danielle Lemmon and the Jack E. Chachkes Endowed Purchase Fund

Accession number

97.101a-s

Object Label

Pink Days and Blue Days consists of a ten-foot-tall armature—resembling a tree or a closet organizer—from which hang spools of thread, a perfume flask, a doll’s torso, a cat-headed figurine, and articles of baby to adult-sized clothing from Louise Bourgeois’ life. The work refers to childhood, with its title suggesting the traditionally gendered colors of pink and blue, as well as its inclusion of a silk coat embroidered with the nicknames the artist was given as a girl: “Louise, Lise, Lison, Lisette, Louison, Louisette.” Yet the intimacy of the silk items, which have the sensual charge of undergarments, suggest something more mature. A lace baby gown hangs from bones in a disconcerting juxtaposition that seems related to the artist’s longstanding interest in Surrealism. For Bourgeois, Surrealism’s emphasis on the unconscious offered a means for exploring her own family history, in particular, the traumatic impact of her parents’ troubled marriage and her father’s affair with the family’s tutor. According to the artist, the bones in this work represent the “bone of contention,” a symbol of the rivalry between her parents to earn her affection by buying her clothing.

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