The God
that Failed:
Louise Bourgeois, Barnett Newman,
Mark Rothko

Opening: Thursday 8 June, 6 – 8 pm 9 Jun – 16 Sep 2023 Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse


‘The God that Failed’ will explore the thematic and formal links among three important artists from the New York School: Louise Bourgeois, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. All three artists knew each other, showed together, and participated in talks and panels in the 1940s and 1950s, and all made the pivot in their work from biomorphic figuration to abstraction and geometry. There is an affinity between the pictorial space in the paintings of Newman and Rothko and the way in which Bourgeois’s sculptures were exhibited as environmental installations. A selection of Bourgeois’s Personages from 1946 to 1954 will be placed in dialogue with major works by Newman and Rothko from the same period. The title of the exhibition refers to a crisis in the concept of authority, be it the father figure, abstraction, psychoanalysis, the sublime or the emancipatory promise of radical politics, and more generally to the postwar atmosphere of existential angst.

Image: Installation view, ‘Louise Bourgeois: Sculptures,’ Peridot Gallery, New York City, 2 – 28 October 1950 © The Easton Foundation / ProLitteris, Zurich, 2023. Photo: Helaine Messer

About the artist

Born in France in 1911, and working in America from 1938 until her death in 2010, Louise Bourgeois is recognized as one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th Century. For over seven decades, Bourgeois’s creative process was fueled…

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