Visual Descriptions

Louise Bourgeois. Quarantania, I. 1947-53; reassembled by the artist 1981 82

Painted wood on wood base, 6' 9 1/4" (206.4 cm) high, including base 6 x 27 1/4 x 27" (15.2 x 69.1 x 68.6 cm). Gift of Ruth Stephan Franklin. © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

Narrator 1: 8–2 Quarantania, I. Made in 1947 – 53 by the American artist Louise Bourgeois, born in 1911. Made of painted wood on a wood base, 6 feet 9 inches high (206 cm) including the square base which is 6 inches tall x 27 inches wide x 27 inches deep. 15 x 69 x 69 cm.

Narrator 2: This abstract sculpture consists of five vertical wooden poles that stand just a bit higher than the average person. Each one is painted matte white, and three have areas of light, swimming pool blue. The poles are hand carved, creating a slightly uneven and mottled texture. A few scratches and nicks are visible on the surface.

They poles stand relatively upright, like a group of people or a small grove of skinny trees and are on top of a two–foot square black platform which is part of the work of art. Four of the poles are evenly spaced approximately one foot apart forming a square. The fifth is placed between the two front poles and slightly set back a few inches. The poles and the platform sit on a larger five–foot–square white base provided by the Museum. The poles vary in shape. Let’s begin with the pole in the center.

It faces forward and is the most cylindrical of the group, with a circumference similar to the size of one’s knee. The top six inches are completely carved out and resemble the eye of a needle with a light blue interior. A white egg–shaped object is placed inside this opening, taking up most of the space. It looks almost like a person’s face peeking out from a hood. Just below it is an 8–inch vertical indentation. Just over halfway down the pole are two hooks, one on each side, with three smooth–surfaced wooden objects hanging from them—two on the left and one on the right. The first object on the far left is white and oblong, about the size of a large remote control. Beside it is a foot–long black form shaped like a skinny bowling pin. On the right is a white object fifteen inches long that looks like an elongated balloon partially filled with water.

The next pole, in the front corner of the platform to your left, is shaped like a very large tongue depressor with a rounded top and flat body. It’s the widest of the group, seven inches wide on the top, and gently tapers to a point at the bottom. Near the top is a vertical recessed area about the size of a brick with a rounded top, painted light blue. If you’re standing in front of the sculpture, the pole does not face forward but is turned slightly to your right.

Behind it, in the back corner of the platform to your left, is the next pole—slightly taller and thinner with a pointier top. It’s facing the center pole. It has a recessed area painted light blue running three–quarters of the length of the pole, making it look like an open pea pod. Resting near the bottom of the cavity is an object the size and shape of a baking potato. It’s painted white and has a dab of pink paint on the lower right. If you walked around the left side of the sculpture, you would find a similar recessed area on its reverse side, also painted light blue.

The next pole, in the back corner of the platform to your right, is about 8 inches wide and shaped like a surfboard, tapering at both ends. It faces in, toward the center pole. This pole is completely white. Near the top are two four–inch long vertical indentations parallel to one another. Fixed in the indentation on the left is a white object that looks like an oval bar of soap. Further down, at about waist height, there’s an eight–inch vertical indentation in the center of the pole, eight inches long.

The last pole, in the front corner of the platform to your right, is the tallest and skinniest of the five—about four inches wide. It’s shaped like a long string bean standing upright. It is white and completely unadorned.

Narrator: To hear the Collection Tour audio on this work, press 4–4–0.

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