RIP: Artist Louise Bourgeois Dead at 98


At the age of 98, Louise Bourgeois, the influential American-based sculptor, died yesterday at the Beth Israel hospital in Manhattan after suffering a heart attack over the weekend. Born in Paris on Christmas Day, 1911, Bourgeois lived through the great art movements of the 20th century — cubism, symbolism, surrealism, abstract expressionism and so on — and was a bridge to the past for contemporary artists who looked up to her. Her influence is so wide spread that art critic, Robert Hughes, has called her “the mother of American feminist identity art.” We curated some of Bourgeois’s pieces from over the past half-century — click past the jump to see them all.

In 1938 Bourgeois married Robert Goldwater, an American art historian, and the couple moved to New York City. Bourgeois had her first exhibition in 1949 at the Peridot Gallery, which featured an installation of stick-like people that were meant to represent her friends and family. From that point on, her career and reputation as a sculptor continued to grow. Her work was shown at prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Tate Modern in London. Bourgeois also held teaching positions at major universities, including Columbia and Yale.

Bourgeois’s work has addressed the issues of body, sex, childhood, and victimhood. For ten years, Bourgeois’s father had an affair with the children’s English tutor, and this betrayal was a hurt that she never got over, but rather explored in her art. In the New York Times, she’s reported as saying, “The subject of pain is the business I am in. To give meaning and shape to frustration and suffering.” She added: “The existence of pain cannot be denied. I propose no remedies or excuses.”

Number Seventy-Two (The No March), 1972

The Destruction of the Father, 1974

Arch of Hysteria, 1993

Maman, 1993

Seven in Bed, 2001

Self-Portrait (detail), 2009