Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

American, b. 1911 - d. 2010

Place of Birth: Paris, France


Louise Bourgeois was born on December 25, 1911, in Paris. As a teenager, Bourgeois assisted her parents in their tapestry-restoration business, making drawings that indicated to the weavers the repairs to be made. In 1932, she entered the Sorbonne to study mathematics, but abandoned that discipline for art. In the mid- to late 1930s, she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, École du Louvre, Atelier Fernand Léger, and other Parisian schools. In 1938, Bourgeois married an American, the art historian Robert Goldwater, and moved to New York. There, she studied for two years at the Art Students League and was soon participating in print exhibitions.

After moving to a new apartment in 1941, Bourgeois began to make large wood sculptures on the roof of her building. In 1945, her first solo show, comprised of twelve paintings, was held at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York and her work was first included in the Whitney Annual (later the Whitney Biennial). In the mid- to late 1940s, she worked at Stanley William Hayter's printshop, Atelier 17, where she met Le Corbusier, Joan Miró, and other Europeans exiled by World War II. In 1949, she exhibited works from her Personage series in the first show of her sculpture, at Peridot Gallery in New York.

In 1951, Bourgeois became an American citizen. Continuing her mode of abstracted figuration instilled with psychological and symbolic content, she remained stylistically distinct from New York School developments. She did, however, join American Abstract Artists in 1954. In the 1960s, she taught in public schools and at Brooklyn College and Pratt Institute in New York. She would continue to teach at colleges and universities during the following decade. In the late 1960s, Bourgeois's imagery became more explicitly sexual as she explored the relationship between men and women and the emotional impact of her troubled childhood (her father had had a ten-year affair with her governess). From 1967 until 1972, she made trips to Pietrasanta, Italy, to work in marble.

With the rise of feminism and the art world's new pluralism, her work found a wider audience. In the 1970s, she began to do Performance pieces—among them A Banquet/A Fashion Show of Body Parts (1978), in which she wrapped art historians and students in white drapery with sewn-in anatomical forms—and expanded the scale of her three-dimensional work to large environments.

The first retrospective of Bourgeois's work was organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1982–83), and her first European retrospective was assembled by the Frankfurter Kunstverein (1989). Bourgeois was selected to be the American representative to the 1993 Venice Biennale. Her collected writings were published in 1998. In 2000, three thirty-foot-high towers by Bourgeois, commissioned by the Tate Modern in London—I Do, I Undo, and I Redo—were featured in that museum's inaugural exhibition. Many of her large-scale works have been exhibited as public art, including three spider sculptures installed at Rockefeller Center in New York in 2001 under the aegis of the Public Art Fund.

Bourgeois's achievements have been recognized with, among other honors, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973), membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1981), a grand prize in sculpture from the French Ministry of Culture (1991), and the National Medal of Arts (1997). Bourgeois lives and works in Manhattan.

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 Armed Forces by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Armed Forces

Phillips, New York

March 4, 2015


 Give or Take III (How do you feel this morning?) by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Give or Take III (How do you feel this morning?)

Phillips, New York

March 4, 2015


 Janus by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois


Bonhams, London

December 9, 2014

$11,752  USD

 Black Torso by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Black Torso

Sotheby's, Paris

December 3, 2014


 Give Or Take II by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Give Or Take II

Villa Grisebach Auktionen, Berlin

November 28, 2014

$16,338  USD

 Le Trani Episode by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Le Trani Episode

Christie's, New York

November 13, 2014

$245,000  USD

 Woman with Packages by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Woman with Packages

Christie's, New York

November 12, 2014

$785,000  USD

 Cunt I by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Cunt I

Sotheby's, New York

November 12, 2014


 Toi et Moi by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Toi et Moi

Swann Galleries, New York

November 12, 2014

$4,000  USD


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...

Zhukova Sits on "Racist Chair," Hyundai Backs Tate's Turbine, and More

By Ashton Cooper | January 21, 2014

— Zhukova Photo Provokes Anger: Garage founder Dasha Zhukova is under fire for a photograph that depicts the socialite sitting on what looks like an Allen Jones chair of a contorted, scantily...

Adele Buys Middleton Portrait, Philly Gets Post-War Art Gift, and More

By Ashton Cooper,Benjamin Sutton | January 10, 2014

– Adele Buys Middleton Portrait: British songstress Adele has acquired a portrait of Duchess Catherine, aka Kate Middleton, by artist Darren Coffield. "It's my ironic take on celebrity that made...

23 Questions for Tracey Emin Before Her First U.S. Museum Show

By Ashton Cooper | November 25, 2013

 Name: Tracey EminAge: 50Occupation: Artist  City/Neighborhood: LondonThis December you will have your first U.S. museum solo show at MOCA, North Miami. Are you...

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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


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


Oct 30, 2008 - Jan 9, 2009

Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York

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