Louise Bourgeois' "Spiders", Rockefeller Center (2001)
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Roving Rube
'03 May 26

This installation was in summer 2001.

For decades, Bourgeois has used the spider to explore issues related to memories of her mother, who died when the artist was 20.

"My mother was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat and useful as a spider," she once wrote...

The largest piece, titled "Maman," [see Fig. 1] includes an egg sack below its rounded belly. Constructed with steel mesh, it contains white polished-marble eggs that have an alluring, gemlike quality. These and other details give you the feeling that motherhood and family relationships are potent issues for Bourgeois.

Indeed, the artist's many accounts of her family history are loaded with enough juicy details to fill a gripping novel. In 1998, she wrote in Interview magazine: "I was brought up in a dysfunctional and promiscuous family setup where no one would talk about sex. On the surface, sex simply did not exist. But in fact, we thought of nothing else. My father slept around with everyone, including Sadie, our English tutor, who lived in the house."

Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 on Christmas Day. Her family owned and operated a tapestry restoration business, which has fed critics' frequent analogies between seamstresses weaving tapestries in the artist's childhood and spiders weaving webs in her art.

(article by Dan Tranberg in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, cached on Google)

More pix of the spiders in the Large Courtyard of the Winter Palace and at the Tate Modern. This summer they are in Japan.


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Fig. 1 Fig. 2