Eye Benches II

1996 – 1997
Granite, pair
Ed. 9/12 + AP
Each: 121.9 x 195.6 x 118.1 cm / 48 x 77 x 46 1/2 in
© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, Louise Bourgeois’s sculpture is synonymous with a decades-long practice rooted in explorations of memory, relationships, and psychological states. Often autobiographical in nature, her imagery traces childhood trauma and the fraught terrain of femininity, while also resonating on a much wider level—conjuring past and present experiences to address issues of identity, gender, sexuality, and motherhood.

Photo: Mark Setteducati
© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

‘Eye Benches II’ (1996 – 1997) is a sublime example of the cogency of Bourgeois’s late work and emblematic of the formal investigations expressed throughout her oeuvre. Carved out of granite, the sculpture proposes a material manifestation of omniscience as the smooth surfaces of its languid eyelids belie a mesmerizing monumental gaze composed of concentric circles: raised and bevelled, polished and matte.

© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

‘Whether it is an eye that sees the reality of things or whether it is an eye that sees a world of fantasy...It is the quality of your eyes and the strength of your eyes that are expressed here. Nobody is going to keep me from seeing what is instead of what I would like.’ —Louise Bourgeois, Louise Bourgeois: No Trespassing. Directed by Nigel Finch and produced by Arena Films, BBC, London, 1994

Serving as both a symbol of perception and as an allusion to female sexual anatomy, the enlargement and displacement of these disembodied eyes recall the persistence of Surrealist iconography in the artist’s late work. As Bourgeois has stated, ‘Eyes relate to seduction, flirtation, and voyeurism’, and yet her ‘Eye Benches’ entice us with so much more.

© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

Situated outdoors, ‘Eye Benches II’ engages with atmospheric conditions, reflecting and absorbing delicate fluctuations of light. Although commanding in its fixed gaze, on the other side of this exchange, each eye offers another kind of physical engagement, providing a site for contemplation and repose, a foundation for our dreamscapes and desires. As Bourgeois expressed, ‘The physical interaction with the medium has a curative effect. I need the physical acting out. I need to have these objects exist in relationship to my body.’

© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

On view in Southampton

Our new private viewing space is now open in the Village of Southampton, on the South Fork of Long Island, New York, presenting key works by artists in our program, including Ed Clark, George Condo, Ellen Gallagher and others. ‘Eye Benches II’ by Louise Bourgeois is on public view, while the gallery is open by appointment from Tuesday to Sunday, between the hours of 11 am and 6 pm EST.

Learn more