Created in her industrial Brooklyn studio, Bourgeois’s haunting installations appear at home against the concrete-and-exposed-brick walls of Garage. “Louise was adamant about not showing in white-cube spaces because they made her uncomfortable,” said chief curator Kate Fowle, explaining the museum’s choice to show Bourgeois as their first major solo exhibition. “With ‘The Cells,’ she created environments to protect her ideas from these kind of spaces. It made sense for us to present this work at Garage because we’ve also strived to create a more intimate art-viewing experience.”
Organized somewhat chronologically, the exhibition begins with a series of sculptural forts made out of doors and which later informed the formal enclosures of “The Cells.” Created as 360-degree installations, these small rooms transform viewers into voyeurs as they attempt to peek between the slatted, short walls to see the rooms and their foreboding contents—marble hands, patchwork blankets, empty perfume bottles, diabolical dolls. This paradoxical combination of repulsive and alluring objects resonates with the overall experience of viewing the show.