Louise Bourgeois

Nationality: American

Birth Year: 1911

Death Year: 2010

Place of Birth: Paris, France

Place of Death: New York City, New York, United States

Specialities: Contemporary Art

Biography

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) 
Date of Birth: December 25, 1911
Date of Death: May 31, 2010
Place of Birth: Paris, France
Occupation: Sculpture, Painting, Printmaking
Movement: Confessional Art
Education: Sorbonne, Paris; Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris;École du Louvre, Paris; École des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Arts Students League, New York
Louise Bourgeois was a French-American artist. She became famous for her Surrealist sculptures. However, she preferred to describe her art as existentialist, and is considered the inventor of confessional art. 
Early Life
Louise Bourgeois was born in December, 1911, in Paris. When she was quite young, her parents, Louis and Josephine Bourgeois, set up a tapestry-restoration workshop on the ground floor of their home. She helped by repairing the missing elements of the tapestries. She was deeply troubled by conflicts at home — her mother, whom she cared for deeply, was unwell and her father was a domineering presence at home. Memories of childhood experiences, including her father’s affair with the children’s governess had a lasting impact on her. She channeled the pain of this time towards creating her artworks through the rest of her life.  
Studying mathematics and geometry to begin with, Bourgeois joined the Sorbonne and was there from 1930 to 1932. She then changed to studying art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumièrefrom 1937 to 1938, then at the École du Louvre, followed by the École des Beaux-Arts. In her own words, she enjoyed the stability of the discipline and found peace in the fact that nobody could change the rules of mathematics. In 1932, following the death of her mother, she switched to studying art. She attended a series of art courses in different schools and in 1938, was taught by Fernand Léger, who advised her to focus on sculpture rather than painting. The same year, she opened her own business — a print shop right next to her parents’ business. She married the same year, and her husband was the American art historian Robert Goldwater. They went to live in New York, returning briefly to France to adopt their first child, Michel. 
New York
In her early years, Bourgeois concentrated on painting and printmaking first, turning to sculpture later in the 1940s. In New York, she studied at the Arts Students League and with the Abstract Expressionist Vaclav Vytlacil. Despite her solo shows in New York in the mid-1940s, her paintings and sculpture received little attention from the art world. From the 1950s to the early 1960s, her output was low and inconsistent. In these years, Bourgeois was drawn to psychoanalysis. She also continued to present her work at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. In a 1964 solo exhibition, she presented plaster sculptures that were quite different from her earlier totemic wood pieces. While she continued to experiment with different materials, the themes in her work were consistent — anger, betrayal, pain, and loneliness. Pieces like “Fillette” (1968) and “Destruction of the Father” (1974) were created in this period. 
Recognition
After her husband’s demise, Bourgeois took up teaching at various places, like the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; the Cooper Union, Manhattan; Brooklyn College, and the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture in 1973. The retrospective in Museum of Modern Art in 1982 was instrumental in making her famous finally, at the ripe age of 70. Most of her well-known works such as, “Cell (Eyes and Mirrors),” “Nature Study,” and “Maman” were created after this. She gained favorable exposure in Europe, when the Kunstverein in Frankfurt showed a retrospective of her work in 1989. Another achievement was her representing the US at the Venice Biennale in 1993. Her most famous sculpture, an enormous, 30-feet-high spider, “Maman,” was shown at the Tate Modern Gallery in London in 2000. This is a huge spider made of bronze, marble, and stainless steel. This was a tribute to her mother Josephine. The Centre Pompidou in Paris held another retrospective in 2008.
Later Life, Death, and Legacy
Bourgeois won many awards. The French government appointed her an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1983. In 1991, the French Grand Prix National de Sculpture award followed, with the American National Medal of Arts under her belt in 1997. A singular triumph was the first lifetime achievement award given to her by the International Sculpture Center in Washington. The Japanese Art Association honored her with the Praemium Imperiale in 1999. 
In the last year of her life, Bourgeois advocated for LGBT equality, creating a piece titled, “I Do,” (2010) for the nonprofit Freedom to Marry. All through her life, she continued to make drawings on paper, and also returned to printmaking. She considered art her tool for coping, a “guarantee of sanity.”  
Bourgeois died in New York in 2010 at the ripe old age of 98. 
She had a great impact on the art scene in the 20th century, with her varied output — from stitched fabrics to paintings to sculptures, and of course, prints. Her prints and illustrated books are in the digital form in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
MUSEUMS/COLLECTIONS
Tate Gallery, London
Museum of Modern Art,New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Brooklyn Museum, New York
Centre Pompidou, Paris
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.
 
 
 
 

See More Lots FOR FREE
at Blouin Art Sales Index
ART PRICES

LOT SOLD (1987 - 2009)

427

MAX PRICE

$4,513,757

AVG PRICE

$864,535

TOTAL SALES (1987 - 2009)

$33,716,899

 Small Eye #3 by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Small Eye #3

Christie's, New York

July 22, 2015

 USD

 Untitled by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Untitled

Sotheby's, London

July 2, 2015

$50,732  USD

 Homely Girl, A life suite by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Homely Girl, A life suite

Bloomsbury Auctions, London

July 2, 2015

 USD

 Henriette by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Henriette

Bloomsbury Auctions, London

July 2, 2015

 USD

 Labyrinthine Tower by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Labyrinthine Tower

Christie's, London

June 30, 2015

$568,980  USD

 Sheaves by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Sheaves

Koller Auktionen, Zurich

June 26, 2015

$2,946  USD

 Femme Maison by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Femme Maison

Koller Auktionen, Zurich

June 26, 2015

$6,427  USD

 The song of the blacks and the blues by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

The song of the blacks and the blues

Menzies, Sydney

June 25, 2015

 USD

 Homely girl, a life, Plate II by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Homely girl, a life, Plate II

Millon & Associes, Paris

June 22, 2015

 USD

News

Fondazione Prada Unveils New Milan Exhibition Space for Venice Biennale

By Michelle Tay | May 5, 2015

Fondazione Prada has unveiled its new exhibition space, which include a permanent installation conceived by Robert Gober and two works by Louise Bourgeois, ahead of the 2015 Venice Biennale...

Gerhard Richter Leads Kunstkompass Ranking for Top 100 International Artists

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | March 25, 2015

BERLIN - Kunstkompass (German for „Art Compass“) a ranking created by art specialist and journalist Willi Bongard in 1970 and issued every spring, is one of the most anticipated publications in...

Interview: Dice Kayek's Haute Couture World

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop | March 17, 2015

A rummage through old toys from Ece Ege’s childhood provided a starting point for the creative director’s latest Spring/Summer 2015 couture collection for Dice Kayek. Thus a spinning top became a...

See Highlights From “Louise Bourgeois: Suspension” at Cheim & Read

By Anneliese Cooper | October 30, 2014

Opening October 30 at Cheim & Read, “Louise Bourgeois: Suspension” places a particular focus on the work of the late French-American sculptor — namely, as the title suggests, her works...

Fair Report: The ADAA Tilts Toward the 21st Century

By Sarah P. Hanson | March 7, 2014

Click HERE to see a video report from The Art Show. Museum-quality works at an inviting, domestic scale abound at this year’s American Art Dealers’ Association Art Show at the Park...

The Armory Show Modern Gives Nod to Women In Its First Curated Show

By Ashton Cooper | March 4, 2014

Curated exhibitions at art fairs have become fairly ubiquitous attempts at keeping presentations fresh, and the Armory Show’s Modern section is now following suit. This year Pier 92 will see the...

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SLIDESHOWS

Louise Bourgeois en el Museo Picasso Málaga

By Marcos Fernández | June 12, 2015

El CAAC y su 25 aniversario

By Marcos Fernández | March 25, 2015

Louise Bourgeois in München

By BLOUIN ARTINFO Deutschland | February 26, 2015

„Louise Bourgeois: Suspension” in New York

By Ashton Cooper | October 31, 2014

See Highlights From “Louise Bourgeois: Suspension”

By Benjamin Park | October 29, 2014

VIDEOS
Events

If These Walls Could Talk

Feb 12 - Mar 28, 2015

Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York

Louise Bourgeois: Suspension

Oct 30, 2014 - Jan 10, 2015

Cheim & Read, New York

Louise Bourgeois: Alone and Together

Oct 27, 2012 - Mar 24, 2013

Galleri Faurschou, Beijing

Exquisite Corpse Drawings

Oct 12 - Nov 6, 2010

Gasser Grunert Gallery, New York

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Galleries
Museums