Artist Louise Bourgeois dies, aged 98
Tuesday 01 June 2010
French-born American artist Louise Bourgeois, whose sculptures explored women's deepest feelings on birth, sexuality and death, died last night. She was 98.
Bourgeois had continued creating artwork until as recently as last week, before suffering a heart attack on Saturday night. She died at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.
Bourgeois's work was almost unknown to the wider art world until she was 70, when New York's Museum of Modern Art presented a solo show of her career in 1982.
She was probably best known for her giant spider structures, titled Maman, which she produced in the last dozen years, when she was already in her eighties. A number of these were exhibited at London's Tate Modern gallery.
"This is not a show that is easy to digest," New York Times critic Grace Glueck wrote, of the 1982 show that caught the attention of the art fraternity. "The reward is an intense encounter with an artist who explores her psyche at considerable risk."
Working in a wide variety of materials, she tackled themes relating to male and female bodies and emotions of anger, betrayal, even murder. Her work reflected influences of surrealism, primitivism and the early modernist sculptors such as Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi.
"I really want to worry people, to bother people," she told The Washington Post in 1984. "They say they are bothered by the double genitalia in my new work. Well, I have been bothered by it my whole life. I once said to my children, 'It's only physiological, you know, the sex drive.' That was a lie. It's much more than that."
In 2007-08, an elaborate retrospective of her career, from the 1940s onward, was displayed at the Tate Modern in London, the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911; her parents ran a business restoring antique tapestries. In her early years, she studied at the Academie des Beaux-Arts and other schools and studios.
She moved to New York in 1938 after marrying the American art historian Robert Goldwater and became an American citizen in 1955.
While Bourgeois's work shows the influence of primitive artists, she was quick to note that her work was not primitive. "My husband said 15 years ago that primitive art is no longer being made," she told The Washington Post in 1984. "The primitive condition has vanished. These are recent works. Look at it this way – a totem pole is just a decorated tree. My work is a confessional."
Her husband died in 1973. She is survived by two sons, Alain and Jean-Louis, as well as two grandchildren and a great-grandchild. A third son, Michel, died in 1990.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
Guardians Of The Galaxy, review: Marvel-lite movie feels half-hearted
Fifty Shades of Grey film stills
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia