Bourgeois, Louise


In 2010, Louise Bourgeois, the French-born American artist who gained fame late in her long career, died in New York at the age of 98.

Bourgeois worked with a wide variety of materials — wood, steel, stone and cast rubber — to create abstract sculptures, drawings and prints that explored feelings about birth, sexuality, death, and the need for nurture and protection in a frightening world.

“I really want to worry people, to bother people,” Bourgeois told The Washington Post in a 1984 interview.

In his book, American Visions, Time magazine’s art critic Robert Hughes called Bourgeois “the mother of American feminist identity art…. [her] influence on young artists has been enormous.”

In 2007, she depicted the effects of aging on her own body in a series of 11 large panels called Extreme Tension.

Born in Paris in 1911, Bourgeois studied mathematics at the Sorbonne and later studied art at the Louvre and the École des Beaux-Arts. She married American art historian, Robert Goldwater, and the couple moved to New York in 1938. She continued her studies in the U.S. and began her art career there.

Her work was almost unknown to the wider art world until she was 70, when New York’s Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of her career.   In 2007-08, an elaborate retrospective of her work from the 1940s onward was displayed at the Tate Modern gallery in London, Le Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.