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Louise Bourgeois
Born 1911 in Paris, France
Died 2010 in New York, NY
Spider, 1997
bronze with dark polished patina, cast 1997
133 x 263 x 249 inches
Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection
Gift of the William T. Kemper Charitable Trust
1997.7.2
enlarge image

According to the artist, the spider is a feminine hero figure. Bourgeois created the spider sculptures to honor her mother, who was her best friend and, like a spider, was deliberate, soothing, and patient. Spiders also create webs which refer to Bourgeois’s early work with tapestries—her parents owned a tapestry restoration business—so the web is a metaphor for connection-making.

While the spider’s body is above your head, (it is over 11 feet tall) you may examine its legs which are smooth bronze, yet with many different bumps and ridges to create the effect of a natural shape. Each leg is different. Here our giant spider is positioned to suggest that she is walking up the lawn to attend to her baby spider which is attached to the Museum’s facade, out of reach.

Bourgeois has exhibited her work in museums and galleries around the world.