Hayward Gallery, London
These sewn-together body parts – dangling from the ceiling, hung out on stands or having sex in vitrines – were created in the final decades of the artist’s long career. They are provocative, scary and marvellous

A lumpen, headless couple have sex in a vitrine. The woman has flung her arm over the man but the arm is a strapped-on prosthesis, the hand a metal pincer, cast over his lumbering back. Both figures are made of stuffed black fabric and make a bulbous silhouette behind the glass. Go round the end and you can see his balls and stitched black anus. They’re at it again in another vitrine. This time the woman has an articulated prosthetic leg, its calf a nasty paint-chipped pink ending in a horribly delicate shoe. It is a miserable thing, the mark of some kind of psychic wound dragged too far into adulthood.

There are vitrines everywhere, and sewn-together upholstered heads, and figures and legs dangling from the ceiling or hung out on stands. Ideas strung together by a thread, thoughts unspooling and reconnecting. Bourgeois’s art leads inevitably to psychoanalytic interpretation. She thought about Freud a lot, but hers was not a systematic appropriation. Her entire life and the things around her became her material. I don’t think she had a choice. Recounting the same old stories – her father’s affair with her nanny, her mother’s death, her relationships with her children, and rummaging about in the lumber rooms of memory and fixations – she kept coming up with marvellous, scary and provocative things.

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