Exhibition banner Louise Bourgeois Tate Modern

The carved, monolithic forms of Bourgeois’s Personage sculptures slowly became more articulated (like vertebrae) and abstract; they now consisted mostly of stacked columns of wood and plaster. Bourgeois first showed the Personages in a series of exhibitions at the Peridot Gallery in New York from 1949 to 1953. The works originally had no bases; they were displayed directly on the floor, creating an environment that viewers could enter and walk through.

The Personages series shows a connection to the work of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, whom Bourgeois had met in 1950. They have also been seen as pre-empting the modular sculpture produced by minimalist artists during the 1960s. But unlike Brancusi’s rigidly symmetrical towers, or the hard-edged geometry of minimalist sculptures, Bourgeois’s structures are almost always skewed and off-balance, giving them a fragile, vulnerable quality.