Louise Bourgeois x Jenny Holzer

The Violence of Handwriting Across a Page


An unprecedented insight into Louise Bourgeois’ art by Jenny Holzer.

Two of the most original artists of the post-war period, Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) and Jenny Holzer (b. 1950), meet in this exceptional artist’s book conceived and designed by Holzer to accompany the Bourgeois exhibition she has curated at the Kunstmuseum Basel.

Holzer is internationally renowned for her exploration and subversion of public language in a wide variety of media and formats. Despite their formal differences, both artists share a strong interest in psychological and emotional states, such as love, desire, sexuality, rejection, jealousy, murder, suicide, dependency, and abandonment. Where Holzer approaches these subjects from a more socio-political angle, Bourgeois derives them from her own psychic life.

Holzer’s book is not a document of her Bourgeois exhibition but rather a parallel work that further mines the dynamic interplay between text and image in Bourgeois’ art. Working in a sumptuous oversize format, she has set up a nonlinear narrative through juxtapositions of Bourgeois’ works and writings, deploying extreme close-ups, dramatic croppings, full-page bleeds, and other devices to startle and refocus our attention on Bourgeois’ preoccupations and obsessions. At times these juxtapositions are enriched with works chosen from the historical collections of the Kunstmuseum Basel. The resultant confrontations are unexpected, jarring, and inspiring.

A fascinating montage of images and writings, this volume offers a unique perspective on Bourgeois’ extraordinary oeuvre as filtered through Holzer’s gaze.

The artist’s book is accompanied by a booklet with texts by Kunstmuseum Basel director Josef Helfenstein and curator Anita Haldemann.

Published with the Kunstmuseum Basel on the occasion of the exhibition, ‘Louise Bourgeois x Jenny Holzer: The Violence of Handwriting Across a Page’, February 19–May 15, 2022.

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