The European Biennial of Contemporary Art

28 June 31 October 2014

St. Petersburg, Russia The State Hermitage Museum

Louise Bourgeois


Louise Bourgeois,
The Institute, 2002.
Silver, 30.5 x 70.5 x 46.4 cm.
Collection The Easton Foundation.
Photo: Christopher Burke, © The Easton Foundation
© Louise Bourgeois, The Institute, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2014

Born 1911 in Paris, France
Died 2010 in New York City, USA

The French-born American artist Louise Bourgeois was major presence in contemporary art at the time of her death in May 2010 at the age 98. Her work is included in the public collections of many major museums throughout the world, from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York to Tate Modern in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Bourgeois studied mathematics at the Sorbonne before switching to fine art at the École du Louvre and École des Beaux-Arts. She moved to New York in 1938, after marrying the American art historian, curator, and critic Robert Goldwater, with whom she raised three sons. She studied painting at the Art Students League, printmaking with Walter Hayter at his famous Atelier 17, and was close to many European Surrealists, many of whom spent the years of World War II in New York. Bourgeois began to favor sculpture over painting in the 1940s but again took up printmaking, drawing, and textile work in the late 1980s and 1990s—media that became very important in her later years. Bourgeois, whose work is more anthropomorphic than abstract, was often explicit about linking her artistic production to her personal biographical recollections, especially her childhood in France, where her parents ran a business repairing and restoring antique tapestries. As a result, her extraordinary formal innovations are often overlooked by critics, who tend to focus on the overt presence of psychological themes—sexuality and the human body, birth, death, fear, obsession, and betrayal—in her work. The first major Louise Bourgeois retrospective was held in 1982 at MoMA in New York and increased her international profile considerably. Tate Modern devoted a show to her in 2007. The most recent exhibition of her work was held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2013–14). In 1999 the Japanese Art Association awarded her the Praemium Imperiale.