Louise Bourgeois‘ two hands engaged in an intimate caress sit incongruously on a roughly chiseled, seemingly unfinished base. In the early 1930s, Bourgeois studied with Charles Despiau, one of Auguste Rodin’s assistants; she may well have learned about Rodin’s marble sculptures of hands from Despiau. Later, in 1967-68, she traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy, where she discovered the same marble quarries from which Michelangelo sourced his material. It was at this point that Bourgeois adopted the medium. As the artist once said of the difficult task of working with marble,” you have to win the shape.” Her fight to conquer the block of marble is left visible here in this work from 1996.
Untitled (No. 2) was Photographed in The Met Breuer (former home of The Whitney Museum), in Manhattan, where it is part of the Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.
Ascetic, sharp features give this bust (circa 1909) of conductor/composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) an aristocratic look. Mahler modeled for Rodin, though the sittings were difficult to endure for the nervous composer, who saw rest as “time wasted away from his work.” This, according to his wife, Alma Mahler.
Trivia: After Mahler’s death in 1911 (at age 5o) from a bacterial infection of the heart valve, Alma Mahler went on to be married to Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, for five years.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on NYC.