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Off the Wall: The Suspended Sculptures of Louise Bourgeois

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Best known for her large-scale metal spider sculptures exhibited from Bilbao to Beacon, French-American artist Louise Bourgeois became famous for her ability to make heavy things hover.

Now for the first time, art lovers can see all of her suspended sculptural works in one place: Beginning October 30, Manhattan’s Cheim & Read gallery will dedicate their 6,000-square-foot space to presenting Bourgeois’s hanging oeuvre.

Spanning more than 45 years of her career, the show, titled “Suspension,” exhibits six black ink drawings and 25 sculptures that dangle from the ceiling, including her famous Janus series (1968), a collection of organic, amorphous, bug-like forms made in bronze and plaster, and Arch of Hysteria (2004), a double-headed work made of fabric, in which male and female torsos are fused and hung at the waist.

Like all of her creations, the suspended sculptures have a heavy biographical undercurrent (Bourgeois is often credited with founding confessional art). According to the artist, the concept of suspended sculpture stemmed from a childhood fixation on her father’s collection of wooden chairs, which were hung from exposed beams in her home’s attic.

Now, viewers can trace how Bourgeois played with the motif over the course of her lengthy career, as she experimented with material, form and scale, and explored themes of instability and fluidity, sexuality and struggle.

“It was an idea that I have been thinking about for years, as it is one of the more interesting and unique contributions Louise has made to modern sculpture,” says gallery co-founder John Cheim.

And just as Bourgeois’ works offer new perspectives on sculpture, “Suspension” offers a new vantage point on the artist herself.

On view through January 10, 2015; 547 W. 25th St.; 212-242-7727; cheimread.com.

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