Mumbling Beauty

Mumbling Beauty

Louise Bourgeois

  1. Alex Van Gelder
  2. Introduction by Hans Ulrich Obrist
  • ISBN 9780500093917
  • 30.50 x 23.00 cm
  • Hardback
  • 112pp
  • 81 Illustrations, 81 in colour
  • First published 2015

A powerful photographic portrait of Louise Bourgeois in the final years of her life – a profound portrait of an artist of the utmost consequence and a piercing study of extreme age.

‘An intimate, uncompromising portrait’ – artdaily.org


Success came to Louise Bourgeois late in life, and since her death her importance as an artist continues to rise; this book gives the viewer a vivid sense of her person and presence.

From 2008 to 2010 Louise Bourgeois allowed Alex Van Gelder into her private world – her studio and home – and indulged his lens, while she worked, rested and waited, mischievous or lost in thought, weary of decrepitude, raging, defiant to the end. She fills the camera with her presence.

Louise Bourgeois was one of the last surviving artists of the high modernist era, and her early work anticipated what would come in the late modern and postmodern eras, including minimalism, installation art and body art. However, she did not achieve fame until after her 70th year, discovered and heralded by a new generation. Once discovered, her reputation grew in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s with an array of major international exhibitions and a burst of creativity. Throughout, her art is confessional, psychological and fraught with fear, anger and sexuality.

Van Gelder’s collaborative portrait is in many ways a message from Bourgeois to the world, her chosen epitaph, scrawled in her own way by gesture, expression, andposture. Despite the frailty and decrepitude of her near one hundred years, she defies her vulnerability.

Alex Van Gelder lives and works in Paris. He has published many books, including Life & Afterlife in Benin. He exhibited a portfolio of photographs of Louise Bourgeois’s hands in 2011. A catalogue entitled Alex Van Gelder – Louise Bourgeois ARMED FORCES accompanied the exhibition.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is an art critic and Co-Director of the Serpentine Gallery in London. He first met Louise Bourgeois as a teenager.