Louise Bourgeois: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Louise Bourgeois
Maman, by Louise Bourgeois,
is a 30-foot (9.1 m)-tall spider. This copy of the bronze sculpture was photographed outside the National Gallery of Canada
Born December 25, 1911 (1911-12-25) (age 98)
Paris, France
Field Sculpture, Painting
Training École du Louvre, École des Beaux-Arts, worked as an assistant to Fernand Léger, Art Students League of New York

Louise Bourgeois (French pronunciation: [luiz buʁʒwa]; born December 25, 1911) is an artist and sculptor. Her most famous works are possibly the spider structures, titled Maman, from the last dozen years.


Personal life

Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris, France. Her parents repaired tapestries. At 12, she started helping them draw the missing segments of the tapestries. At 15 she studied mathematics at the Sorbonne. Her studies of geometry contributed to her early cubist drawings. Still searching, she began painting, studying at the École du Louvre and then the École des Beaux-Arts, and worked as an assistant to Fernand Léger. In 1938 she moved with her American husband, Robert Goldwater, to New York City to continue her studies at the Art Students League of New York, feeling that she would not have stayed an artist had she continued to live in Paris. [1]

She lives and works in New York City.

In 2009 at the age of 97, she and the Easton Foundation bought her neighbor William Ivey Long's townhouse in Manhattan for $4.75 million. [2]


She is best known for her 'Cells','Spiders',and various drawings, books and sculptures. Her works are sometimes abstract and she speaks of them in symbolic terms with the main focus being "relationships" - considering an entity in relation to its surroundings. Louise Bourgeois finds inspiration for her works from her childhood: her adulterous father, who had an affair with her governess (who resided in the home), and her mother, who refused to acknowledge it. She claims that she has been the "striking-image" of her father since birth. Bourgeois conveys feelings of anger, betrayal and jealousy, but with playfulness. In her sculpture, she has worked in many different mediums, including rubber, wood, stone, metal, and appropriately for someone who came from a family of tapestry makers, fabric. Her pieces consist of erotic and sexual images and also forms found in nature, such as her sculpture, Cumuls (referring to clouds in the sky) and Nature Study. Although she has worked with spider imagery since the 1940s, perhaps her most famous works are the spider sculptures from 1994 to 2003. This includes her famous sculpture, Maman.

Bourgeois exhibited her paintings in New York in the early 1940s. She made her sculptural debut at the Peridot Gallery in 1949 in an exhibition entitled, “Louise Bourgeois, Recent Work 1947-1949: Seventeen Standing Figures in Wood”. Despite early success in that show, with one of the works being purchased for the Museum of Modern Art, Bourgeois was subsequently ignored by the art market during the fifties and sixties. It was in the seventies, after the deaths of her husband and father, that she became a successful artist.

In 1993 she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. In 1999 she participated in the Melbourne International Biennial 1999. In 2000 Bourgeois is commissioned for the inaugural installation at Turbine Hall of Bankside Power Station, opening as the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art (May 12th to November 26th). Bourgeois displays a thirty foot steel and marble Spider called Maman (1999) and three steel architectural towers called I Do, I Undo and I Redo (1999-2000) that employ the use of staircases and mirrors and incorporate fabric and marble sculptures within the interiors.

All of Bourgeois' sculptures incorporate a sense of vulnerability and fragility. Her works are often viewed to have a sense of sexuality to them, which she believed is a large part of both vulnerability and fragility. [1]


The Tate Modern in London organizes a Major Retrospective of Bourgeois’s work that travels from there (October 10th to January 20th, 2007) to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (March 5th to June 2nd, 2008), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (June 27th to September 28th, 2008), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (October 26th to January 25th, 2009), and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (February 26th to May 17th, 2009)


The Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte exhibits sixty of Bourgeois’s works, spanning her career, juxtaposed with the paintings and objects of the antique and prestigious permanent collection of the Capodimonte Museum (October 17th to January 25th, 2009). A catalogue including installation shots of the show is published.


Inverleith House in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland exhibits “Nature Study” (May 3rd to July 6th), a two-part exhibition pairing Bourgeois’s new series of red gouache drawings and three small sculptures with the Botanical Teaching Diagrams of John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884). Psychologically charged, Bourgeois’s drawings engage with the great cycles of life—motherhood, birth, death, and regeneration. Thematically, both bodies of work deal with nature, fertility, fecundity, growth, survival, and decay. A two-volume catalogue is published, representing both installations.

Galerie Hauser & Wirth in Zurich exhibits "Louise Bourgeois: La Rivière Gentille" (June 1st to July 26th). A metaphor for memory, for a life looked back upon, Louise Bourgeois’s La Rivière Gentille (2007) is an astonishingly beautiful series on paper. Made up of 42 mixed media sheets, each almost a metre long, the series interweaves imagery and phrases from a text the artist wrote in the mid-‘60s which looks back upon her childhood in France.

Cheim & Read in New York shows “Louise Bourgeois: Echo” (September 9th to November 1st). The exhibited sculptures are evocative of Bourgeois’s Personages of the late-40s to the mid-50s. The earlier pieces, assembled constructions of painted wood, represent missed family and friends. The recent sculptures, entitled ECHO, date from 2007 and are similarly anthropomorphous and are redolent of reverberations from the past. Cast from her own discarded clothing that Bourgeois has variously stretched, sewn, draped and piled into abstract, organic forms, the bronzes are then painted white to give a ghostly aura to the textured surfaces. Bourgeois began using her clothing as material for her art in the mid-1990s. The re-appropriation of her wardrobe and linens conjures the fraught territory of domesticity and familial hierarchies, but does so in the most personal of terms. Ever present in Bourgeois’s work, inherent contradictions make the sculptures resistant to any easy interpretation—they are at once soft and hard, cold and warm, nurturing and distant. Also exhibited are Bourgeois’s gouache drawings of 2007 that depict the processes of motherhood, from conception and pregnancy to birth and beyond. Bourgeois’s blood red paint is at once bodily and ethereal – the paint, applied “wet on wet” – was allowed to bleed and coalesce, leaving a range of organic, accidental marks, that compliment the corporeal nature of the imagery.

In September of 2008 The French Legion of Honor medal was presented by President Sarkozy to Louise Bourgeois at artist’s Chelsea home.


Inspiration for future generations of artists

In October 2007, The Observer interviewed a number of British contemporary artists, Rachel Whiteread, Dorothy Cross, Stella Vine, Richard Wentworth and Jane and Louise Wilson, about how Louise Bourgeois's art inspired them, in an article called Kisses for Spiderwoman.[3] Vine described Bourgeois as one of the "greatest ever artists" and said that "few female artists have been recognised as truly important". She said there was a "juxtaposition of sinister, controlling elements and full-on macho materials with a warm, nurturing and cocoon-like feminine side" that appears within Bourgeois' art. Vine also described Bourgeois as: ""incredible: she's known all these great men and outlived them all."[3]

On 12th November 2007, leading British artists Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin and Stella Vine again, were all interviewed by Alan Yentob for BBC One's series Imagine in the documentary Spiderwoman about the life and art of Louise Bourgeois.[4]


Bourgeois' life, career, and creative process is examined in the 2008 documentary film Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine.


See also

List of artworks by Louise Bourgeois


  1. ^ a b Robert Ayers (July 28, 2006), Louise Bourgeois, ARTINFO, http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/19186/louise-bourgeois/, retrieved 2008-04-23  
  2. ^ ""Big Deal: Room for the Eight-Legged," New York Times". October 30, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/realestate/01deal2.html.  
  3. ^ a b Fox, Killian and Toms, Katie. Kisses for Spiderwoman, Louise Bourgeois., The Observer, 14 October 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Imagine, Transmission Tuesday, 13th November 2007 Louise Bourgeois, Spiderwoman" BBC Online, 13 November 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2008


Further reading

  • Falconer, M (2007-09-15). "Listen with ‘Mother’". Visual Arts (The Times). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article2433343.ece. Retrieved 2007-09-28.  
  • Huhn, Rosi. "Louise Bourgois", in: Inside the Visible, edited by Catherine de Zegher, MIT Press, 1996.
  • Mignon Nixon, "The She-Fox". In: Women Artists at the Millennium. Edited by Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher. October Books / MIT Press, 2006. ISBN 0-262-01226-x
  • Mignon Nixon, Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art, October Books / MIT Press, 2005, ISBN 0-262-140896
  • Wallpaper, October 2008[1]


External links

Link title


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address