I know one image is shown twice, but I wanted to show the other one that is attached to it. Also, click the images as always.
Bourgeois was influenced by the Surrealist movement at the time of these paintings. They explore her own history as well as issues of femininity, psychoanalysis and communication. Apart from maybe the image of the stairs leading up to between the breasts of the figure, they all provoke feelings of anxiety and imprisonment; what Lucy Lippard has called “uneasy spaces” that conjure up themes of containment and the desire to escape. (For example, the fragmented torsos which can exemplify a lack of freedom)
Is Bourgeois suggesting here woman’s acceptance of her place in society, or is she conveying the tension that arises between contentment in domestic confinement and a desire to break free of traditional roles?
Without faces, none of the women has an identity. Only the various styles of their houses differentiate them. Some figures seem to fight their containment, while others accept it. In addition, while all the houses have windows and some have doors, implying accessibility, Bourgeois does not tell is the windows and doors are open or closed, locked or unlocked. Although the women’s sexual organs are exposed to whoever wishes to exploit them, their minds are closed off from all outsiders by the houses on their heads.