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Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris, France – d. 2010, New York, NY) was a renowned French-American sculptor and printmaker. Born in Paris, she studied art at various schools in France, including the Ecole du Louvre, Académie des Beaux-Arts, Académie Julian, and Atelier Fernand Léger. In 1938, she emigrated to the United States and continued her studies at the Art Students League in New York.

Though her beginnings were in painting and printmaking, Bourgeois turned her attention to sculptural work by the 1940s and began exhibiting in 1947. Her early sculpture — groupings of abstract and organic shapes carved from wood — was affected by the influx of European Surrealists artists who arrived in the US after World War II. She has since experimented with a variety of media, working in rubber, bronze, and stone.

Printmaking was a major part of her practice throughout her life. Bourgeois’ print œuvre spans seven decades and includes some 1,200 individual compositions and approximately 4,800 sheets in total. The artist’s primary printmaking years took place at the start and end of her long career. She found inspiration in her personal life and childhood, including her experience working in her parents’ Parisian tapestry business. Her works focus on relationships between individuals or between an entity and its surroundings. Her many prints often convey intense emotions with a concurrent sense of playfulness.

Her work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; British Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunstmuseum Basel, CH; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Bourgeois’ work has featured in retrospectives and exhibitions around the world, at the Long Museum in Shanghai (2018), for example, which counted as the first major museum exhibition of the French-American artist in China. In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art organized a survey exhibition focusing on her prints and books. Her works have further been featured in retrospectives at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (2015), and the National Gallery of Canada (2011). In 2007, a major retrospective exhibition opened at the Tate Modern and toured internationally. In addition, she was the first artist commissioned to fill the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London in 2000. Bourgeois represented the US in the 1993 Venice Biennale.

“The Prints of Louise Bourgeois” by Deborah Wye and Carol Smith was published in 1994, with an updated catalogue entitled “Louise Bourgeois: The Complete Prints & Books” published by Wye in 2017.
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