Louise Bourgeois
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

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Louise Bourgeois 1982
  • Artist Rooms
Louise Bourgeois was a French-born, American artist who began making surrealist-inspired paintings and prints, but turned to sculpture in the late 1940s. Her sculptures, often but not always abstract, have strong allusions to the human body and especially to human sexuality. In this photograph she is carrying one of her own works, a phallic-shaped sculpture that her right hand is holding in a suggestive manner. Her smile is very knowing.

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.


Relating to or resembling a phallus, the representation of the male sexual organs as embodying power.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Abstract art, Phallic, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. AR00215
  • Medium Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
  • Size 37.50 x 37.40 cm (framed: 50.80 x 40.60 cm)
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008