Bourgeois first began to work in marble during the late 1960s; becoming a regular visitor to the famous marble quarries around Carrara in Italy. The sculptures shown in this room have sensual, organic forms like those she had made earlier in latex and plaster. But this time they are carved from marble, as if to emphasise the contrast between their apparent softness and the actual hardness of the stone. The shapes also have an ambiguous quality, at once phallic and bulbous or breast-like, hard and soft, masculine and feminine. Other works represent parts of the body more clearly, a hand, arm or foot seeming to emerge from the rough stone.
The sculpture Ventouse, shown in this room, was made in 1990, and bridges two distinct stages of Bourgeois’s career. Here she combines a traditional sculptural technique with the more contemporary practice of using found objects: the glass cupping jars or ‘ventouses’ she found in a flea market. They are set into a block of marble, so that they echo the round protrusions in the marble sculpture called Cumul. This was something Bourgeois was to develop further in the ambitious installations she created throughout the 1990s.