A monumental mother

A monumental mother

For some people, spiders can be creepy, ugly, disgusting, pretty much a nightmare but luckily Louise Bourgeois thinks otherwise. In fact, her giant spider sculptures made of bronze, stainless steel and granite were created as a tribute to her mom. Yeah, you are reading right... to her mom if you are wondering why a spider reminds her of her mother keep reading. 

To understand Louise's art first I need to tell you a bit more about her life because like every artist, her art is an outcome of her life events. Louise Bourgeois is a French-born American artist, that started studying mathematics at the Sorbonne but soon after switched to arts as she was still depressed by her mother's death. In 1938 Louise got married to an American art historian called Robert Goldwater, and they lived in New York. A couple of years later she was exhibiting her Seventeen Standing Figures in wood, even having solo exhibitions at the Peridot Gallery. Moreover, she started being part of collective exhibitions alongside various important artists at that time (1940's and 1950's in the United States) she was exhibiting alongside the abstract expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem De Kooning. Also, she was in contact with European artists like Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, and Joan Miró. 

Fast forward, in 2000 she had won many awards and was already recognized as an international artist. In fact, the Tate Gallery Of Modern Art commissioned her to do an art installation for the Turbine Hall inauguration of the museum's opening in London. Louise presented three steel towers titled "I Do, I Undo, I Redo" and "Maman" aka the famous spider that measures thirty feet tall. 

So answering the question Why a spider? Louise wrote a poem titled  Ode à ma mere (Ode To My Mother) and she says “because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and useful as an araignée. She could also defend herself, and me, by refusing to answer ‘stupid’, inquisitive, embarrassing personal questions.

I shall never tire of representing her.

My reasons belong exclusively to me.

The treatment of Fear.” (Quoted in Tate Modern 2000, p.62.)


In fact, Louise works with the idea of a spider as her main subject for several years. At first, she started doing ink and charcoal drawings then she started making prints about spiders and finally she started using spiders in her sculptures. Moreover, she compares "her artistic process with those of a spider: ‘What is a drawing? it is a secretion, like a thread in a spider’s web … It is a knitting, a spiral, a spider web and other significant organizations of space.’ (Quoted in Louise Bourgeois, p.50.)

Personally, I am fascinated by how Louise has taken something that many people see as disgusting (a spider) and has given her a positive meaning, not only the qualities that spiders and moms have in common but also how she compares her artistic process with that of a Spider. It is simply inspiring to see how something so small and ordinary she has turned it into something interesting, extravagant, monumental.

I hope this post has inspired you, has given you new ideas about art, ways of making art, about your artistic process. Here I leave you some rewards that Louise Bourgeois obtained and links to know more about her life and art! 



In 1983 the French minister of culture named her Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters

In 1991 the French government gave her the Grand Prix National De Sculpture

In 1997  Bill Clinton during his presidency awarded her with the National Medal of Arts

In 2008 president Nicolas Sarkozy gave the French Legion of Honor Medal to Louise Bourgeois 


If you want to know more about her life and art check out these links below 

Louise Bourgeois biography

Did you know that... Louise Bourgeois

I Do I Undo I Redo

Spider Tate Museum

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