National Museum of Women in the Arts
Louise Bourgeois
December 25 1911 - present
Photograph of Louise Bourgeois, 2003, by Nanda Lanfranco, courtesy of Louise Bourgeois Studio, New York, NY, USA
Place of Birth:
American, French
Phonetic Spelling:
loo-EEZ boor-ZHWAH
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Engraver, Printmaker, Sculptor
Artist's Statement:
I need my memories. They are my documents. I keep watch over them. They are my privacy, and I am intensely jealous of them. Cézanne said: ‘I am jealous of my little sensations.’ To reminisce and woolgather is negative. You have to differentiate between memories. Are you going to them or are they coming to you? If you are going to them, you are wasting time. Nostalgia is not productive. If they come to you, they are the seeds for sculpture.

Self-expression is sacred and fatal. It’s a necessity. Sublimation is a gift, a stroke of luck. One has nothing to do with the other. I am saying in my sculpture today what I could not make out in the past. It was fear that kept me from understanding. Fear is the pits. It paralyzes you. My sculpture allows me to re-experience the fear, to give it a physicality so I am able to hack away at it. Fear becomes a manageable reality. Sculpture allows me to re-experience the past, to see the past in its objective, realist proportion.

I am a lonely, long distance runner, and that’s the way I like it.

Statement courtesy of Louise Bourgeois Studio, New York, NY, USA

Other Occupation(s):
Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Where Trained/Schools:
The Art Students League of New York, New York, NY, USA (1939-1940) Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, France (1936-1938) Académie d'Espagnat, Paris, France (1936-1937) Académie Ranson, Paris, France (1936-1937) École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France (1936-1938)
Related Visual Artists:
student of Fernand Léger student of Achille-Émile-Othon Friesz student of Robert Wlérick student of Paul Colin student of Roger Bissière student of Vaclav Vytlacil student of André Lhote student of Yves Brayer student of Charles Despiau influenced Petah Coyne influenced Louise Nevelson influenced Mary Beth Edelson
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Golden Lion Award, Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy (1999) Lifetime Achievement Award, International Sculpture Center, Washington, DC, USA (1991) Grand Prix National de Sculpture, French Ministry of Culture, Paris, France (1991)
Earliest exhibition:
Paintings by Louise Bourgeois, Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1945)
NMWA exhibition(s):
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
Insomnia: Landscapes of the Night
From the Collection: Contemporary Figurative Prints
Inside the Visible
Partners in Printmaking: Works from SOLO Impression
Steven Scott Collects: Donations and Promised Gifts to the Permanent Collection
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Artist retrospective(s):
Louise Bourgeois, Tate Modern, London, England and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2007-2008) Louise Bourgeois: Print Retrospective, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (1994) Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective Exhibition, Frankfurter Künstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (1989-1990)
Fabrication I