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Louise Bourgeois: The Piece that is Breaking Auction Records

Art’s longevity and impact in the contemporary world

French American artist, Louise Bourgeois’ (B. 1911) exploration and innovation of self-expression and internally inspired experiences allowed for a thriving career that spanned over eight decades. Bourgeois led a fantastic and unique life that produced movement within the contemporary world. Her large-scale sculptures and installations became a powerful extension of her creativity and catapulted her to become a well-respected innovator amongst others in her field. Through her construction of gigantic visuals, Bourgeois was able to give the art world a series of spectacles and creations that were too grand to be viewed in small venues.As a result, many of Bourgeois’ pieces found their way into galleries and auctions of all sorts throughout her years of work. Even after her death, Louise Bourgeois’ work still standsout in a room full of other pieces by gathering the attention of many art lovers and fostering their desires to obtain even just a fraction of her creative whims.

Louise Bourgeois (1990), courtesy of Raimon Ramis

With the greatdemand of her work, Louise Bourgeois’ pieces have had many homes, especially her most notable figure Spider (1996), which has been displayed at the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Louise Bourgeois, from April - September 1996; in San Francisco at the Gallery Paule Anglim, Louise Bourgeois, from January - March 1996; in Brumadinho, Brazil at the Inhotim Museum; in Porto Alegre, Brazil at the Fundação Iberê Camargo; and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Museu de Arte do Rio, Spider, from December 2018 - March 2020 (the present example) etc. The dedication to this piece and many others that were a part of her spider series in the ‘90s spoke to the artist on a deeper level than mere fascination. According to Bourgeois, “The Spider is an ode to my mother. She wasmy best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. . .Like spiders, my mother was very clever” (Tate, 2008). The intention and connection to this piece showcases why so many are in awe by this sculpture. This deeper meaning also gives understanding as to why such an emblem is considered almost priceless and held at such high regard.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider (1994). Property of the Fundação Itaú, Courtesy of

The praise and acknowledgement for Louise Bourgeois’ work still thrives over a decade past her death and almost two decades after the production of the piece. On the May 18th, 2023, Spider (1996), as property of the Fundação Itaú, was selected for auction to benefit the Foundation.

With its staggering size and history behind the creation, Bourgeois still continues to set the standard with the longevity and weight of her work as her piece sold for a record-breaking $32.8 M through Sotheby’s Contemporary art sale. Followed by nine other record-breaking moments in the art world that night, this moment woke up the art world once again to the possibilities of contemporary art, women’s stance in the arts, and the push for the arts as well as its influence on those who see it.

Sotheby’s collection of contemporary art and their hand in the distribution and auctioning of that art is momentous. It speaks to all artists out there and validates their work by showcasing how highly art is considered and how its value only increases as times progress. Nothing can challenge the organic production of visual expression, or the unique approach each individual who chooses to bring thought into real life holds. Art keeps us close to the roots of what it means have this human experience.



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