Cell (Eyes and Mirrors), 1989-93

Cell (Eyes and Mirrors) is one of a series of installations which Bourgeois began making in 1989. The Cells are typically constructed from a mixture of such salvaged architectural materials as old doors, windows and wire mesh combined with found objects and sculptural fragments. This Cell has the structure of a cube. The ceiling and two of the walls are made of woven iron mesh joined by iron bars which are hinged in places. The other two walls consist of iron rods welded in a grid holding large square panes of glass so that they resemble oversize windows. Several spaces in the grid are empty of glass. A large round mirror is attached to a hinged circular panel cut out of the centre of the ceiling. The panel rotates to reflect different aspects of the interior.

Cell (Eyes and Mirrors) 1989-93 by Louise Bourgeois 1911-2010

A large pair of eyes, comprising two polished, black marble eyeballs, stares blankly out of a lump of rough, greyish stone mounted on two sections of steel girder in the centre of the Cell. This sculpture is a later version of a work Bourgeois made in 1984 titled Nature Study (Velvet Eyes). The artist has subsequently developed several versions of eyes carved in marble. As a result of their elemental materials, simple form and large scale, the eyes convey a sense of monumental force, both inviting and repelling the viewer’s gaze. They are surrounded by mirrors of various sizes. Several small mirrors hang off the mesh wall behind them. A large oval-shaped mirror and a small round mirror mounted on tall, old fashioned wood and metal stands are positioned on either side of the eyes. A square mirror is propped on the floor. Breast-like bulges, carved out of the back of the unpolished marble in which the eyes are embedded, are visible through reflection in one of the mirrors. These suggest that the eyes represent a female subject.

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