10 Facts About Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois' print Spider & Snake (2003). Etched image of a black and white spider with a red snake wrapped around one of its legs.Spider & Snake © Louise Bourgeois 2003
Leah Mentzis

Leah Mentzis, Partnerships Manager[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Louise Bourgeois?

Browse artworks
Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois

76 works

Master of materials Louise Bourgeois is an incomparable talent. Her life’s works have left an impact on not only the contemporary market, but a collection of her peers and collectors. Here’s 10 facts you might not have known about Louise Bourgeois.

“My art is a form of restoration in terms of my feelings to myself and to others.”
Louise Bourgeois

Her mere existence is truly a gift

Louise was born on Christmas day in Paris, 1911. It was there where she would begin her journey of developing into one of the most important artists of the 20th century.

Louise Bourgeois' Maman spider sculpture. An oversized spider sculpture is pictured against a sunset and building, in Canada.Image © Sam valadi, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Maman © Louise Bourgeois 1996

She’s a pioneer in the market

Bourgeois’ most expensive work ever sold at auction was her 1996 Spider sculpture, which sold for $32 million in 2019 at Christie's. That same year, she was recognized as the only female artist to earn one of the top 10 highest grossing lots. 20% of sales by women artists that year came from her.

The Olive Branch by Louise Bourgeois (2004). The print features two upright olive branches in red, against  a red oval.  The olives are drawn in black.The Olive Branch © Louise Bourgeois 2004

Her father had an affair with her nanny

Bourgeois’ works reflect her own rationalisations and relationships within her complex family dynamic. These affairs were to be later depicted in some of her most notable works throughout her career.

“I felt like I was holding the baton of time in history and that Louise was like helping me through the next stage of my life.”
Tracey Emin

She mentored Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin has noted and credited Louise Bourgeois many times as not only as a professional influence, but as someone who has supported her personally, outside of the market.

The Guilty Girl is Fragile by Louise Bourgeois. The print features an upside down, red triangle with a sad face.The Guilty Girl is Fragile © Louise Bourgeois 2000

Louise Bourgeois fostered the Feminist Art movement (but didn’t identify as one)

Bourgeois' work frequently explored themes of femininity, gender, and power. However, despite her recognition as a pioneer in the movement and works like Arch Of Hysteria and Femme Maison, she has stated “I am a woman, so I don’t need to be a feminist.

A print of artist Louise Bourgeois’ Femme Maison. A woman’s figure interrupted by a house covering from the bust to thee face in front of a muted red background.Femme Maison © Louise Bourgeois 1993

She explores dark, psychological themes in her work

Bourgeois' work often explored themes related to her own psychological experiences, including feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, and trauma. She used her art as a way to work through these emotions and to process her own personal history, as seen in The Destruction Of The Father.

Be Calm by Louise Bourgeois (2005). The print features a red-shaded oval and the red inscription "BE CALM" within.Be Calm © Louise Bourgeois 2005

Her parents had a creative background

Bourgeois' parents owned a tapestry gallery and restoration business, which exposed her to textiles and craftsmanship from a young age. Its lasting impression on Louise influenced her future work with soft sculptures.

A photograph of Louise Bourgeois’ Eyes sculpture. The sculpture is installed on grass, with the sea in the background (Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park, Oslo). It is comprised of two large, breast like spheres. Image © Alhill42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Eyes © Louise Bourgeois 1997

Nobody sees her the way she does

Torso, Self-Portrait is a prime example of Louise’s impression or rather, realisation of herself. Her self-image is intellectual and introspective, opposite of what would traditionally be an iteration of the male gaze.

Black and white photograph of artist Louise Bourgeois with eyes half shut, her hands touching behind her jawbone.Image © Oliver Mark, CC BY-SA 4.0

She went on sabbatical

After spending time receiving therapy after her father’s death, Louise Bourgeois spent a considerable amount of time away from her work. It wouldn’t be until the early 1960s that she returned to her craft.

Blue Bed by Louise Bourgeois (1998). The print features a simple drawing of a bed against a light blue wall and dark blue carpet.Blue Bed © Louise Bourgeois 1998

She’s earned global recognition for her work

Louise has won recognition for her work all across the world. She received an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1977, the National Medal of Arts by the United States in 1997, and in 2008 she was awarded the Legion of Honour, the highest award among the French.