Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois


Artist Details

Birth Place
Death Place
New York City
Phonetic Spelling
loo-EEZ boor-ZHWAH
Drawings and prints; Sculpture
Places of Residence
Paris; New York City
The Art Students League of New York, New York, 1939–40; Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, 1936–38; Académie d'Espagnat, Paris, 1936–37; Académie Ranson, Paris, 1936–37; École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1936–38
Retrospective Exhibitions

Louise Bourgeois: 1911–2010, National Gallery of Canada, 2011–12; 

Louise Bourgeois, Tate Modern, London, and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2007–08;

Louise Bourgeois: Print Retrospective, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994;

Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, Frankfurter Künstverein, Frankfurt, Germany, 1989–90; Paintings by Louise Bourgeois, Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, 1945



NMWA Exhibitions

Women House, 2018 

Revival, 2017

WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, 2007

From the Collection: Contemporary Figurative Prints, 2006

Steven Scott Collects: Donations and Promised Gifts to the Permanent Collection, 2005

Insomnia: Landscapes of the Night, 2003

Partners in Printmaking: Works from SOLO Impression, 1996–97

Inside the Visible, 1996

Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987–97

About the Artist

Louise Bourgeois is considered one of the most inventive and influential sculptors of the 20th century for her use of unconventional materials and allusive psychological content.

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.

National Museum of Women in the Arts