ART VAULT: Three ways Artist Louise Bourgeois found inspiration

by Nicola Mitchell

Louise Bourgeois Third Drawer Down


Louise Josephine Bourgeois was a renowned French-American artist and sculptor, best known for her contributions to both modern and contemporary art, and for her spider structures, titled Maman, which resulted in her being nicknamed the Spiderwoman. It is interesting to delve into the areas of her life of which she found inspiration to create the strong themes which are apparent in her various bodies of work. Like many artists, her work is in part a reflection of what goes on both internally and externally in her world.



Throughout her work it’s clear animals and nature alike played a huge role, Bourgeois took inspiration from our perceptions of particular creatures and the traits we may share. Maggots (or Untitled), 1989 reveals these thoughts, “[Maggots are] not a negative subject at all…however hard things are, there is still hope if you believe in maggots. Something has decomposed, and it is from that decomposition that hope comes again.”




The younger years of ones life had always fascinated Bourgeois and proved to be a prevalent theme during her career  “My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama,” she once said. “All my work of the last fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood.”  




Bourgeois's maternal relationship undoubtedly informed her work, primarily the pieces featuring spiders. “The spider is an ode to my mother,” Bourgeois once said. “She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver ... Like spiders, my mother was very clever.” It was through the spider that Bourgeois was able to show the intellectual and emotional strength of women, as carers, maternal beings and pillars in our society.
Third Drawer Down’s collaborative tea towel featuring ‘Virtues théologales (Flower)’ by Louise Bourgeois (pictured above) roughly translates to read “Loves me, loves me not passionately, crazily, not at all, with love, a little, a lot…” Perfect for tender-hearted friends who daydream about secret crushes whilst doing the dishes. Screen printed with intricate embroidered detail.
Also suitable for fierce fans of the French-born American artist who are in the market for some affordable artwork (stretch onto canvas to hang up at home; a local framer can help!)

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