The National Museum of Women in the Arts Hosts Virtual Happy Hour: Louise Bourgeois

By Editorial Team on December 14, 2020
Louise Bourgeois, Spider III, 1995; Bronze, 19 x 33 x 33 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; ©The Easton Foundation / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; Photo by Emily Haight
Event: Thursday, December 17 from 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Virtual Happy Hour: Louise Bourgeois

Join the staff of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) and special guest Amei Wallach for a virtual happy hour to celebrate Louise Bourgeois ahead of her December 25th birthday. Make a specialty cocktail (or mocktail) in her honor as we share artworks, stories and explore the museum’s collection and archives for all things Louise.

Amei Wallach is an art critic, commentator and filmmaker. Her feature-length documentaries, including Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine, remain in international demand. Wallach has also written or contributed to several books and her articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Art in AmericaSmithsonian Magazine and more. She was on-air arts commentator for the PBS MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour and chief art critic for New York Newsday.

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Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) put her artistic talent to use at a young age by helping in her family’s tapestry restoration workshop. She received a degree in mathematics before turning her attention to formal art study, first at Paris’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts and later through private lessons. At 27, she married American art historian Robert Goldwater and moved with him to New York City.

During her first decade in New York, Bourgeois experimented with drawings, paintings and prints, while taking classes at the Art Students League and raising three sons. She met art-world luminaries, including important Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists. Not until the 1950s did she concentrate on sculpture.

Bourgeois’s art explores opposite qualities: light/dark, rough/smooth, male/female. It alludes to strong emotions, often tied to sexuality. Bourgeois said she created art to externalize, examine and thus control her own emotions. Unpleasant thoughts, especially memories about her father and his 10-year affair with the family’s English nanny, were easier to revisit when embodied by her work.

Although she had been showing her art for many decades, Bourgeois first received recognition after her 1982 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Since then, her sculptures have been displayed throughout Europe and the U.S., and a catalogue raisonné of her prints has reawakened interest in Bourgeois’s two-dimensional work. The artist was chosen to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale of 1993.