Louise Bourgeois

American sculptor, painter and printmaker of French birth. She studied mathematics at the Sorbonne before turning to studio arts.

In 1938 she went to New York, where she enrolled in the Art Students League and studied painting for two years. Bourgeois's work was shown at the Brooklyn Museum Print Exhibition in 1939.
During World War II she worked with Joan Miró, André Masson and other European expatriates. 

Although Bourgeois exhibited with the Abstract Expressionists, she never became an abstract artist. Instead, she created symbolic objects and drawings expressing themes of loneliness and conflict, frustration and vulnerability.
In 1949 Bourgeois had her first sculpture exhibition, including Woman in the Shape of a Shuttle, at the Peridot Gallery; this work proved typical of her wooden sculpture and foreshadowed her preoccupations of the following years.
Her first sculptures were narrow wooden pieces, such as Sleeping Figure (1950; New York, MOMA), a ‘stick' figure articulated into four parts with two supporting poles. Bourgeois soon began using non-traditional media, with rough works in latex and plaster contrasting with her elegantly worked pieces in wood, bronze and marble. In the 1960s and 1970s her work became more sexually explicit. The psychological origins of her work are particularly evident in Destruction of the Father(1974; New York, Xavier Fourcade). Bourgeois's work was appreciated by a wider public in the 1970s as a result of the change in attitudes wrought by feminism and Postmodernism.
The art of Louise Bourgeois was created over a span of sixty years. Besides working within a surrealist strain in the late 1930's and early 1940's, she was an important force during the rise of the American Abstract Expressionists in the late 1940's and early 1950's, as well as during the 1960's and 1970's feminist movement. Bourgeois has been called everything from a Minimalist to an “eccentric abstractionist” (by the art historian Lucy Lippard). Bourgeois received an honorary degree from Yale in 1977, and was awarded an Achievement Visual Arts Award by the Woman’s Caucus for the Arts in 1980. Though Bourgeois exhibited in major museums all over the world, she was recognized as primarily a "woman’s artist" until the Museum of Modern Art gave her a one-person show in 1982. It was this show that finally launched Bourgeois to artistic stardom. In 1994, MoMA launched a major retrospective of Bourgeois' complete prints and published a catalogue raisonné to go along with the show.
 In 1975 Lippard praised Bourgeois as an artist who “despite her apparent fragility survived almost 40 years of discrimination, struggle, intermittent success and neglect in New York’s gladiatorial art arenas.” Bourgeois proved that she was not only a survivor, but an artistically and intellectually competent personality to be reckoned with. 

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