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Art Index: Louise Bourgeois

“An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.”

- Louise Bourgeois


Spider (1997) – steel, tapestry, wood, glass, fabric, rubber, silver, gold and bone. Photograph: Maximilian Geuter/The Easton Foundation / VEGAP, Madrid

Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010) was a French-American artist.

Daughter of well-known tapestry weavers, Bourgeois initially made her first drawings for her parents, who were always busy restoring ancient tapestries.

Her rigorous and ordered predisposition led her to study mathematics, which she later left in favor of the Acadèmie des Beaux-Arts.She has also attended Fernand Léger's Atelier, approaching surrealist poetics.

In 1938 she married and moved with her American husband, the art historian Robert Goldwater, to the United States where he began to exhibit his surrealist works, his paintings and his engravings. In the late 1940s, Bourgeois experiments with sculptural forms, producing a series of long, thin wooden figures which she will later exhibit individually and/or in groups. These are her first autobiographical works with an abstract but emotionally powerful imprint.

In 1945 she holds her first exhibition where she presents seventeen of her wooden sculptures, each representing a loved one she left in France in 1938. The figures were arranged close to each other, so as to maintain the relationships with each other and with the space in which they are located - her long career as a sculptor, who brings her own creatures into the world. Immediately afterwards she abandons painting for sculpture. Worry, betrayal, anxiety, revenge, obsession, aggression, imbalance, and loneliness - these are the themes that transpire in her art.

In 1951 she becomes an American citizen. In the fifties and sixties she experiments with an infinity of materials and hypotheses questioning the laws of geometry, destroying and rebuilding, and employing different materials: plaster, concrete, rubber, marble and bronze. Between 1960 and 1964 she creates a series of plaster formations exhibited at the Stable Gallery in New York entitled Lair.

In 1989, Bourgeois made a drypoint etching, Mud Lane, of the home she maintained in Stapleton, Staten Island, which she treated as a sculptural environment rather than a living space. Bourgeois had another retrospective in 1989 at Documenta 9 in Kassel, Germany. In 1993, when the Royal Academy of Arts staged its comprehensive survey of American art in the 20th century, the organizers did not consider Bourgeois's work of significant importance to include in the survey. However, this survey was criticized for many omissions, with one critic writing that "whole sections of the best American art have been wiped out" and pointing out that very few women were included. In 2000 her works were selected to be shown at the opening of the Tate Modern in London. In 2001, she showed at the Hermitage Museum.

In 2010, in the last year of her life, Bourgeois used her art to speak up for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality. She created the piece I Do, depicting two flowers growing from one stem, to benefit the nonprofit organization Freedom to Marry. Bourgeois has said "Everyone should have the right to marry. To make a commitment to love someone forever is a beautiful thing." Bourgeois had a history of activism on behalf of LGBT equality, having created artwork for the AIDS activist organization ACT UP in 1993.(Louise Bourgeois - Wikipedia)

Largely underappreciated during her early career, she garnered critical and public acclaim after her retrospective debuted at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1982. The artist died on May 31, 2010 in New York, NY at the age of 98 of a heart attack. Today, Bourgeois’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Kunstmuseum Basel, among others.(Louise Bourgeois | Artnet)


Robert Mapplethorpe, Louise Bourgeois 1982, printed 1991 ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

According to Bourgeois’s turnover in 2020 is $13,461,540 .

Distribution by price (by Artprice)

Some of the artworks currently up for public auction include

“Hamlet et Ophélie (1997)”

Lot # 71, Print-Multiple, Lithograph in colors, Ed. 33 / 50, 73.59 x 104 cm, Estimate: $ 3,572 - $ 5,953 (€ 3,000 - € 5,000 ),From 04 mar 2021 to 11 mar 2021 at Sotheby's France]


“Le Père et les trois fils (Version II) (1999)”

Lithograph, 60 x 32 cm, Estimate: $ 3,572 - $ 5,953, from 04 Mar 2021 to 11 Mar 2021 at Sotheby's


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