Day 261/365 of Steel – Louise Joséphine Bourgeois

Arachnophobia or do you love spiders?

Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010) was a French-American artist. Although she is best known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art, Bourgeois was also a prolific painter and printmaker.

The spider sculpture Maman by Louise Bourgeois, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain.
Fig 1: The spider sculpture Maman by Louise Bourgeois, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain.
Photo: Didier Descouens

Her mother died in 1932, while Bourgeois was studying mathematics. Her mother’s death inspired her to abandon mathematics and to begin studying art. Bourgeois graduated from the Sorbonne in 1935. In 1938, she opened her own gallery in a space next door to her father’s tapestry gallery.

Spider, 1997
Fig : Spider, 1997
Photo: Maximilian Geuter © The Easton Foundation / VEGAP, Madrid

She met visiting American art professor Robert Goldwater as a customer. They married and moved to the US. In 1954, Bourgeois joined the American Abstract Artists Group, with several contemporaries, among them Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt.

Maman

Maman - Louise Bourgeois, Canada
Fig 2: Maman – Louise Bourgeois, Canada
Source: Wikimedia

In the late 1990s, Bourgeois began using the spider as a central image in her art. Maman, which stands more than nine metres high, is a steel and marble sculpture from which an edition of six bronzes were subsequently cast. It has been installed in numerous locations around the world. Moreover, Maman alludes to the strength of her mother, with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.

“The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.”

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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