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Louise Bourgeois
No Exit

21 June—15 September 2024
Villa Medici, Rome, Italy

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As a complement to the exhibition Louise Bourgeois. Unsconscious memories at the Galleria Borghese, Villa Medici presents two works by Louise Bourgeois: the installation No Exit and the tapestry Sainte Sébastienne in the Salon de lecture, exceptionally open to the public.

No Exit evokes the childhood home in which Louise Bourgeois used to take refuge under the stairs to spy on her father. The staircase imagined by the artist leads nowhere; it loses its functional aspect and acquires an almost spiritual dimension that prompts reflection and introspection. Two wooden spheres are placed on either side of the steps, suggesting a phallic form, while two rubber hearts hidden beneath the staircase invoke the place of love in human relationships.

The installation No Exit (1989) resonates with another work by the French-American artist on show in the historic rooms of Villa Medici, inhabited by reflections on the body and memory: the tapestry Sainte Sébastienne (1997), belonging to the Mobilier National collections and on loan to Villa Medici since 2022. This tapestry, woven by the Gobelins Manufactory, is based on an intaglio print made by Louise Bourgeois in 1992. It depicts a female version of the martyr Saint Sebastian, represented with great economy of means: a body with generous curves is riddled with black arrows from all sides. Bourgeois hijacks the traditional iconography of the Christian martyr to evoke her personal sufferings. “Sainte Sébastienne is a self-portrait”, she declared.

The two works by Louise Bourgeois are presented in the Salon de lecture. This salon, refurbished in 2022 by Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi, is exceptionally accessible to the public for the occasion.