Artist Louise Bourgeois dies at age 98 | Arts | DW | 01.06.2010
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Artist Louise Bourgeois dies at age 98

Internationally celebrated sculptor Louise Bourgeois has died in New York at age 98. The French-born, naturalized American may have been best known for her works depicting enormous spiders.

Bourgeois with her sculpture Eye for an Eye at the Guggenheim, NYC

Bourgeois' art focused on sexuality and psychology

Bourgeois, who died Monday in New York of a heart attack, was considered one of the most important living artists.

Her materials and subjects over the years were varied, running from metal sculptures to installations to works in wood; major themes were female psychology and sexuality.

Early life

Bourgeois was born in France in 1911, the daughter of a couple who ran a tapestry restoration workshop. She studied art at a number of academies, and married US art historian Robert Goldwater.

The couple left Paris for New York in 1938. There, she got to know other famous artists of the time, such as Joan Miro, Marcel Duchamp and Andre Breton.

Sculpture Maman, 1999, a nine-meter high steel spider

Bourgeois dedicated her spider sculptures to her mother, who was a weaver

Brutal, psychosexual themes

She became famous in the 1970s with works that grew increasingly brutal and violent, and were often psychosexual in nature. One of her gigantic steel spider sculptures - which leave the people walking around them looking like tiny insects themselves - is titled "Mama." Another installation is called "The Destruction of the Father."

In 1982, the Museum of Modern Art in New York put together the first Bourgeois retrospective, and in 1995, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris paid the artist the same honor. The news of Bourgeois' death was released by the Emilio and Annabianca Vedova Foundation, in Venice, Italy, which is currently preparing an exhibition of the Bourgeois' work.

Image of a Bourgeois sculpture and a quote from her reading: I have endeavored during my whole lifetime as a sculptor to turn woman from an object into an active subject.

The artist put women - their bodies and their psychology - at the center of her work

Dual exhibition in Berlin

In Germany, Bourgeois' works can currently be seen at the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection in Berlin. An exhibition titled "Double Sexus" - the title is taken from a book by Henry Miller - pairs some 70 works by Bourgeois and German sculptor Hans Bellmer.

The sexually charged works of both artists make for easy comparison, with striking parallels but also clear differences of intent. Bourgeois and Bellmer didn't know one another, although their paths must have crossed in Paris, where they both lived in the Surrealist heyday. Both artists also emigrated to New York in 1938.

A sculpture named St. Sebastienne by Louise Bourgeois is seen at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore Feb 9, 2006.

Bourgeois did a female take on the famed St. Sebastian figure

Editor: Kate Bowen

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