Louise Bourgeois, Alex Van Gelder Armed Forces

12 February – 14 May 2011, Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Hubertus Exhibitions

Gnarled, sinewy and wrinkled with age, Louise Bourgeois’s hands were fascinating. Her hands are the subjects of portraits taken by the artist Alex Van Gelder, who, at Bourgeois’s invitation, photographed her at her New York townhouse during the last year of her life. The resulting portfolio of eighteen photographic prints will be on display at Hauser & Wirth Zürich from 12 February.

More than purely a portrait project, Bourgeois considered this collaboration to be an extension of her work. Through this series, she put forth her own physicality to be viewed as an element of her art, focusing on her hands as her tools.

Clenched or cradling, her hands recall many of her works, from the entwined finger-like forms of ‘Clutching’ (1962), to the skein of lines of her ‘Insomnia Drawings’ and the poised spiders of her ‘Maman’ series. Van Gelder’s images are stark, showing just the hands against the black fabric of her clothes. They are flooded with intimacy and warmth, reflecting his closeness to Bourgeois and the trust she placed in him to work with her on this project.

The portfolio is printed in an edition of 10 and will be shown both on the walls of the gallery and also displayed in its original linen box. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, ‘Alex Van Gelder – Louise Bourgeois. ARMED FORCES’, published by Ediciones Polígrafa and Hauser & Wirth.