Biography

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. 
FAMOUS ARTWORKS
“Quarantania I” 1947
“Persistent Antagonism” 1949
“Sleeping Figure” 1950
“Janus Fleuri” 1968
“Articulated Liar” 1986
“Maman” 1999
“Mamelles” 2000
“Seven in a Bed” 2001
“Crouching Spider” 2003
“Father and Son” 2004
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.
TIMELINE
1911  -  Born in Paris
1921–32  -  Academie Fenelon
1932–35  -  Le Sorbonne, Paris
1936–37  -  École du Louvre, Paris
1936–38  -  École des Beaux-Arts, Paris
1936–38  -  Academie de la Grande Chaumiere
1936–38  -  Emigrates to New York
1981  -  Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston
1983  -  Member, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York
1983  -  Officier, L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paris
1987  -  Fellow for Life, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
1998  -  Golden Lion, Venice Biennale
2009  -  Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls
2010  -  Dies in New York
MAJOR EXHIBITIONS
1982–83  -  Museum of Modern Art, New York
1982–83  -  Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
1982–83  -  Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
1982–83  -  Akron Art Museum, Akron
1987–89  -  Taft Museum, Cincinnati
1987–89  -  Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin
1987–89  -  Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse
1989–91  -  Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt 
1989–91  -  Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
1989–91  -  Musée d'art Contemporain, Lyon
1989–91  -  Fondacion Tapies, Barcelona
1989–91  -  Kunstmuseum, Bern
1989–91  -  Kröller-Muller-Museum, Otterlo
1995  -  Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris
1995  -  Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1995  -  Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki
1995  -  Museum of Modern Art, New York
1995  -  Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
1995  -  Musée du Dessin et de l'Estampe Originale, Gravelines
1995  -  Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
1995  -  Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
1996  -  Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
1996  -  Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
1996  -  American Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice
1996  -  Brooklyn Museum, New York
1996  -  Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC 
1996  -  Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague
1996  -  Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris
1996  -  Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Montreal
1998  -  Serpentine Gallery, London
1998  -  Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
1998  -  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
1998  -  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
1998  -  Musee d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux
1998  -  Foundation Belem, Lisbon
1998  -  Kunsthalle Malmo, Malmo
1998  -  Yokohama Museum, Tokyo
2001  -  Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao
2001  -  Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
2001  -  Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart
2001  -  Tate Modern, London
2001  -  Rockefeller Center, Public Art Fund, New York
2002  -  Documenta XI, Kassel
2002  -  Sammlung Hauser & Wirth, St. Gallen
2002  -  Tate Modern, London
2002  -  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2002  -  Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
2002  -  Cheim & Read, New York
2002  -  State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
2002  -  Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki
2002  -  Kulturhuset, Stockholm
2002  -  Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
2003  -  Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek
2003  -  Dia Center for the Arts, New York
2003  -  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
2003  -  Palais de Tokyo, Paris
2003  -  Beaumontpublic, Luxembourg
2004  -  Fundació Joan Miro, Barcelona
2004  -  Daros Collection, Zurich
2004  -  Akira Ikeda Gallery Muranchi, Yokosuka
2004  -  St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis
2004  -  Cheim & Read, New York
2004  -  Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris
2004  -  Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna
2004  -  Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
2007  -  Sean Kelly, New York
2007  -  Storm King Art Center, Mountainville
2007  -  Kukje Gallery, Seoul
2007  -  Xavier Hufkens Gallery, Brussels
2007  -  Dorsky Gallery, Long Island
2007  -  WANAS Foundation, Knislinge
2007  -  Venice Biennale, Venice
2007  -  Parrish Art Museum, Southampton
2008  -  Centre Pompidou, Paris
2008  -  Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh
2008  -  Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
2008  -  Cheim & Read, New York, USA
2008  -  Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
2008  -  Barbican Centre, London
2008  -  Tate Modern, London
2008  -  Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
2008  -  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
2008  -  Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 
2008  -  Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington DC
2008  -  Hauser & Wirth Colnaghi, London
2008  -  Marlborough Graphics, London
2008  -  San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco
2009  -  Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC
2009  -  Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne
2009  -  Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples
2010  -  Arnolfini, Bristol
2010  -  Nationalgalerie, Berlin
2010  -  Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag
2013  -  Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris
2014  -  Tate Modern, London
2014  -  Cheim & Read, New York
2015  -  Moderna Museet, Stockholm
MUSEUMS / COLLECTIONS
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Tate Gallery, London
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Brooklyn Museum, New York
Centre Pompidou, Paris
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Reina Sofia National Museum, Madrid
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne
BOOKS / PUBLICATIONS
Louise Bourgeois: The Personages” by Jeremy Strick and Mary A. Steiner
Louise Bourgeois: Recent Works” by Louise Neri and Marie-Laure Bernadac
Louise Bourgeois: The Early Work” by Josef Helfenstein
Louise Bourgeois” by Paul Gardner
Louise Bourgeois” by Ian Cole
Louise Bourgeois: Stitches in Times” by Frances Morris
Louise Bourgeois: Designing for Freefall” by Christiane Meyer-Thoss and Marie-Luise Flammersfeld
Louise Bourgeois” by Rainer Crone
Louise Bourgeois: La Famille” by Thomas Kellein
Louise Bourgeois” by H. Peter Stern and David R. Collens
The Prints of Louise Bourgeois” by Deborah Wye and Carol H Smith
Louise Bourgeois and the Nature of Abstraction” by Jerry Gorovoy

 

ART PRICES

LOT SOLD (1987 - 2009)

531

MAX PRICE

$4,513,757

AVG PRICE

$864,535

TOTAL SALES (1987 - 2009)

$33,716,899

 Eight in Bed by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Eight in Bed

Auctionata, New York

August 15, 2016

 USD

 Feuille d'olivier by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Feuille d'olivier

Cannes Encheres, Cannes

July 9, 2016

$1,657  USD

 Geometry and Youth by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

Geometry and Youth

Christie's, London

June 30, 2016

 USD

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