One of the world’s most preeminent artists, Louise Bourgeois’s career spanned over seven decades. Her varied and extensive body of work has been displayed in the collections of major museums worldwide.
Born in Paris, Louise’s appreciation of art began in childhood, when she helped her parents in their tapestry restoration workshop. Her interests shifted in her late teens and at the age of twenty-one, she earned a degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne. A year later, however, she returned to her true passion – art. That led to further education at the Ecole du Louvre, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Atelier Bissiere and Academie de la Grande Chaumiere.
In 1938, after marrying Robert Goldwater, Bourgeois moved to New York City and later became an American citizen. Once in New York, she continued to immerse herself in art and enrolled in the Art Students League. Through her work with paint, sculpture and textiles, Louise explored sexuality and relationships in terms of the figurative versus the abstract, femininity versus masculinity and beauty versus revulsion. revulsion. Her work often explored childhood trauma and hidden trauma that follows through life. She is noted for linking sexuality, fragility, and insecurity.
The 1940s saw Louise turn her attention to sculpture. It was this work that would ultimately lead to her worldwide recognition as a leader in the field of confessional art. In 1949, Bourgeois debuted a sculptural exhibit considered to be the first art installation, a groundbreaking way for artists to present their work.
Bourgeois’s acclaim grew throughout the 1970s, and in 1982, she became the first female artist to be given a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the only American of two women sculptors represented in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden on the Mall in Washington, DC; there are fifteen men.
She received numerous awards for her work, including the National Medal of Arts (1997), La Biennale di Venezia’s Golden Lion (1998), the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale Award (1999) and the French Legion of Honor medal (2008).