Artist. As a painter and more notably as a sculptor, she created a long series of semi-abstract yet expressive works that many consider erotic or disturbing. Bourgeois was raised in Paris by a well-off family that sold and repaired tapestries, and with whom she had conflicted relations that were to be manifested in her work. She studied mathematics at the Sorbonne in her teens, then pursued a career in art at the Ecole du Louvre and the Ecole du Beau Arts. In 1938 she married American art historian Robert Goldwater (deceased 1973) and relocated to New York City, where she would remain for the rest of her long life, eventually taking American citizenship in 1951. After spending a time with the Art Students League, she had her first solo exhibit of paintings (with some sculpture) in 1945 and was a regular at the Whitney Museum's annual show until 1962. She devoted herself almost completely to sculpture after 1949. Long respected within the arts community, her work started attracting notice with the general public after the 1966 Fischbach Gallery exhibition "Eccentric Abstraction"; Bourgeois had five New York shows between 1978 and 1981, and her initial European solo presentation at Frankfurt in 1989. Her best-known creations all date from her mature years, including the sexually suggestive "Fillette" (1968) and "Nature Study" (1984), as well as the several spiders that apparently represent her mother, and the "Cells" of the 1990s. After her husband's death, she began teaching at The School of Visual Arts, and at Columbia and Yale Universities. Her honors were many, including honorary doctorates from Yale in 1977 and the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, in 1983, the National Medal of Arts presented by Bill Clinton in 1997, and the French Legion of Honour bestowed in her New York home by President Sarkozy in 2008. Bourgeois continued working in her Chelsea Studio until her death from heart disease; at the time of her demise, two film retrospectives of her work were in production and numerous galleries contained her creations. Asked to explain her somewhat difficult images, she said: "The subject of pain is the business I am in. To give meaning and shape to frustration and suffering".
Bio by: Bob Hufford