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The Blind Leading the Blind, 1949

  • Louise Bourgeois, American, 1911-2010

Wood and pigment

  • Overall: 67 1/8 × 72 × 12 1/2 inches (170.5 × 182.9 × 31.8 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Buhl Ford, II Fund


In this sculpture, a single, angled lintel links the upright elements, which the artist calls "personages"; she uses this abstracted human form as a highly personal totem. Created in her rooftop studio in New York City not long after she left France, this series of sculptures express her loneliness at being a foreigner in a strange city and her fears about her identity as mother, wife, and artist. The Detroit sculpture has six pairs of long, tapered legs, which appear to stand "on tiptoe" when viewed from one vantage point. From another, they are more firmly set on the ground. In either case, their delicate balance suggests an upward, not just forward, movement.

Signed, initialed at top right: L B.

Inscribed, dated at back top: 1949

The collection of the artist. 1979-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Two Hundred Years of American Sculpture. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of Art. New York 1976, pp. 261-262 (ill. pl. 50, fig. 251). Lippard, L. "Louise Bourgeois: From the Inside Out." ARTFORUM 13 (March 1975): 27-29 (ill.). Anderson, W. American Sculpture in Process: 1930/1970. Boston, 1975, pp. 93-95 (ill.). Anderson, W. "American Sculpture in the Fifties." ARTFORUM 5, no. 10 (Summer 1967): 65 (ill.). Bloch, S. "An Interview with Louise Bourgeois." ART JOURNAL 35, no. 10 (Summer 1976): 370-372 (ill.). Bulletin of the DIA 59, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 24-29 (ill.).

Louise Bourgeois, The Blind Leading the Blind, 1949, wood and pigment. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Buhl Ford, II Fund, 79.2.