On my trip to Basque Country in 2007, one of the more dramatic visual aspects to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (besides Jeff Koons' Puppy and seeing Walt Disney Hall beside the Nervion River) was Louise Bourgeois' riverbank sculpture of a giant spider. Bourgeois had a traveling retrospective at MOCA in 2008-09, and Suzanne Muchnic writes of her at the L.A. Times today:
Known for sculptures of giant spiders, women with extra breasts, double-headed phalluses and rooms that resonate with loneliness and dread, Bourgeois was a fearless creative force whose work could be disturbing and perversely witty. Although she got little attention from the art world until her seventh decade, she became its grande dame, constantly in demand and showered with honors.
Bourgeois often left viewers with questions about the meaning of her work, but made no secret of painful experiences that shaped it. The spiders — including "Maman," a 35-foot-tall piece commissioned for the inauguration of the Tate Modern gallery in London in 2000 — are a tribute to her beloved mother, whom she described as a pillar of inner strength who was "clever, patient and neat as a spider."
Bourgeois, who was born in Paris on Christmas Day in 1911, died today in New York City.
Photo: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao