Louise Bourgeois, Maman

Louise Bourgeois, Maman, NGC
Louise Bourgeois, Maman, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1999 (cast 2003)
Bronze, stainless steel, and marble
927 x 891 x 1024 cm
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been thinking about Louise Bourgeois these days, about the ways in which she suggests mental and emotional strength in Maman (1999).

She came up with the idea of giant spiders in the late nineties. She did Maman in 1999. Maman is a weaver, organic, and female (holding her eggs under her belly), and yet she is large and menacing, and her legs crush the earth like the mechanical, inorganic limbs of a robot. It is the ultimate portrayal of fear and vulnerability and mixing of categories: male-female, organic-inorganic, doing-destroying-mending. Bourgeois talked of how spiders restore their webs if they are damaged and how she, the artist, felt “caught in a web of fear.” She was, in fact, both a creature caught in a spider’s web of fear, and the spider which vanquishes this fear by mending its vulnerable cobweb.


5 thoughts on “Louise Bourgeois, Maman

  1. Mira Tudor, Thank you for the image and information. Isn’t it thought-provoking that so many spiders are beneficial invertebrates and web-building artists and yet so often, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the poisonous bites live after them and their pest control and silken webs are interred with their exoskeletons?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you both. A sculpture like this makes you wonder about how sometimes while striving to creation beauty we defend creative activities to the point where we push away other important things in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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