Urgent Museum Notice

Louise Bourgeois

Black-and-white photograph of an older woman with her short, dark hair brushed back. Sitting with her left hand raised, her deeply lined face looks off-camera, her eyes squinting slightly and her lips pursed. She wears a gold earring, gold wedding ring and a white shirt.

Photo by Nanda Lanfranco, 2003, courtesy of Louise Bourgeois Studio, New York

1911–2010

Bourgeois put her artistic talent to use at a young age by helping in her family’s tapestry restoration workshop. She received a degree in mathematics before turning her attention to formal art study, first at Paris’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts and later through private lessons. At 27, she married American art historian Robert Goldwater and moved with him to New York City.

During her first decade in New York, Bourgeois experimented with drawings, paintings, and prints, while taking classes at the Art Students League and raising three sons. She met art-world luminaries, including important Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists. Not until the 1950s did she concentrate on sculpture.

Bourgeois’s art explores opposite qualities: light/dark, rough/smooth, male/female. It alludes to strong emotions, often tied to sexuality. Bourgeois said she created art to externalize, examine, and thus control her own emotions. Unpleasant thoughts, especially memories about her father and his 10-year affair with the family’s English nanny, were easier to revisit when embodied by her work.

Although she had been showing her art for many decades, Bourgeois first received recognition after her 1982 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Since then, her sculptures have been displayed throughout Europe and the U.S., and a catalogue raisonné of her prints has reawakened interest in Bourgeois’s two-dimensional work. The artist was chosen to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale of 1993.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Louise Bourgeois
  • Birth

    Paris, 1911
  • Death

    New York City, 2010
  • Phonetic Spelling

    loo-EEZ boor-ZHWAH

Works by Louise Bourgeois

The Song of the Blacks and the Blues

Though best known for her sculpture, Louise Bourgeois began creating prints early in her career. When she returned to the print medium in the 1990s, she rendered enigmatic images in a restricted palette of black, white, red, and blue. In this mural-sized print,  The Song of the Blacks and the Blues, an ensemble of spiral forms appears to move and interact. Their narrative...

Print with a vertical block of blue sandwiched between strips of black. Spiraling, tube forms of grey, red, white and dark blue occupy the central blue strip. Various sizes, the forms are arranged in two blocks on each side, with one large form and one tiny meeting in the center.