Louise Bourgeois' precariously balanced series of sculptures give the illusion of frailty, but on closer inspection a steel construction provides them with a hidden strength. Appearing like empty houses, the ‘Maisons Fragiles’ are a commentary on the solitude of domestic life, confronting the deeply repressed issues that conditioned her youth.
Now, the title of these poignant works has given birth to a new exhibition of the same name, currently on show at Hauser & Wirth London. Led by Bourgeois' steel houses, the exhibition encompasses the work of nine artists united by themes of fragility, vulnerability and protection.
Slightly bowed like glossy rose-tinted pools of liquid or blocks of ice, Roni Horn's translucent glass sculptures Two Pink Tons, 2008, sit in the centre of the smaller gallery space, appearing as if suspended in time and space. On the adjacent wall, Richard Serra's flat corten wall sculpture, Untitled, 1975, with its time-work patina, is a manifestation of the artist's interest in the collision of matter and space.
Elsewhere, Robert Gober’s Untitled (Bent Door), 1988 – a door which appears to be folding in on itself – is a disarming piece that triangulates with the floor, presenting itself to the viewer as an obstacle that they must traverse around within the gallery space. In Gordon Matta-Clark's Splitting, 1974, a suburban house in New Jersey is cut with a chainsaw and rearranged by Matta-Clark, creating unexpected apertures and incisions. On a smaller scale, Isa Genzken's rough-hewn concrete forms appear like crumbling brutalist architectural models.
Also on show are two delicate papier-mâche sculptures by Eva Hesse that explore containment in connection with the psychological experience of domestic space, while sculptures by Alexander Calder and Fausto Melotti are exercises in articulating space.