3 Works to Meet… Louise Bourgeois

By Sybaris Collection

It is easy to identify yourself with Louise Bourgeois’ work. Her pieces of art are the result of an introspection process where she relates images from her childhood with feelings such as loneliness, desire and maternal love. Universal emotions and feelings that, approached from a deeply personal perspective, connect with the public immediately.

Bourgeois has been appreciated by contemporary art critics as one of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. On November 11, 2015, she reached one of the most important records for a woman in contemporary art: one of her pieces—Spider (1997)—was sold by Christie’s auction house for $ 28 million. 10 years after her death, we select only three of her most important works, so that the viewer gets closer to one of the most stimulating artists of recent times.

1. The Destruction of the Father (1974)

The relationship that Louise Bourgeois (Paris, 1911-New York, 2010) had with her father has many nuances. The father figure who had been a guide soon became a catalyst for grief: her father, Louis, forced the family to accept his lover. After the death of her father, Bourgeois suffered a period of tears and despair. The French artist grew up in an environment of textile machines: spiders not only have a negative connotation, but also meanings associated with weaving and making a home. The Destruction of the Father is an installation that simulates a protocol for eating. However, its constituent elements are very similar to human organs. Although Bourgeois’s work has been frequently associated with the relationship that the artist had with her mother, the truth is that the one she had with her father was also decisive. The artist herself mentioned that The Destruction of the Father is related to the stomach: on the one hand, food; on the other, the organs that allow it to be digested. Sometimes humans decide to see only one side of the coin. Often times, the most intimate art is responsible for showing us what we do not want to see.


2. Arch of Hysteria

Pain penetrates the body. And the body is deformed. It contracts. Sometimes it twists until it loses its original shape. The head retracts. And it does it to such a degree that it manages to touch the tips of its feet, creating a circle. It is not unknown to anyone that Louise Bourgeois attended psychoanalysis for a good part of her life, and that practically the entirety of her work is related to concepts of this discipline. Arch of Hysteria, however, does not speak of female hysteria, or does so from a very different perspective than usual. Jerry Gorov, the model of the sculpture, mentioned that the creation process was very long and complex. “I would not do it again,” he said. Is there something masculine in women? Is there something feminine in men? Are these concepts associated with cultures and society? Bourgeois exposes before our eyes what sociologists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists have commented for a long time: hysteria is not a concept only associated with femininity. And it is worth recognizing it to understand the pain that our body suffers from certain emotions and memories.

 3. Maman (1999)

How to say that horror can be poetic? With Bourgeois it is possible. Maman is probably her most recognized work among the public. A giant spider of around 10 meters frequently perches at the entrance of the museums that host a Bourgeois exhibition. Spiders have been imagined by movies, art, and literature as hideous creatures capable of creating painful bites. The most harmful can even lead to death. A female spider is also capable of swallowing the male after copulation. However, these extraordinary beings are also associated with the protection of their young and their incredible ability to build homes. Louis Bourgeois mentioned on different occasions that Mama represented the protection that her mother made her feel. However, the concepts that are triggered by this imposing sculpture are also related to the fear of death. Perhaps to interpret it are not enough names like those of Duchamp or Bacon. Where are you, Freud?