Bourgeois, Louise

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bourgeois, Louise

Louise Bourgeois (bōōrzhwä´), 1911–2010, French-American sculptor, b. Paris. She married the art historian Robert Goldwater in 1938, emigrated to the United States, and became a citizen. Her semiabstract sculpture employs many media, including wood, stone, plaster, metal, and cast latex, and from the 1980s on included installations encompassing room-sized environments. Characterized by organic forms and generally centered on the human body, her sculpture is extremely personal, sensual, and symbolic, often dealing with female identity, psychology, and sexuality. She also created a variety of paintings, drawings, prints, and, beginning in the 1990s, textile works. In addition, she is known for her highly personal and often autobiographical writings. Virtually ignored for decades, by the mid-1970s Bourgeois was finally being recognized and by the 1980s and 90s she was considered a major figure. Bourgeois has been an important influence on many artists, particularly women. Her work is in various museum collections, e.g., New York's Whitney Museum and Museum of Modern Art, which held a 1982 retrospective of her work (its first such exhibition of work by a woman), as did the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2001.

See her Deconstruction of the Father/Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews, 1923–1997 (1998); studies by D. Wye (1982), P. Gardner (1994), C. Kotik (1994), P. Weiermair et al. (1995), J. Helfenstein (2002), M.-L. Bernadac et al. (2003), E. Keller, ed. (2004), F. Morris and M.-L. Bernadac, ed. (2008), and M. Nixon (2008); B. Cornand, dir., The Whisper of the Whistling Water (documentary film, 2004).

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