Louise Bourgeois | Editioned work

As a young adult Bourgeois assisted in her parents' tapestry workshop, where she was responsible in particular for making drawings of feet and other appendages that needed repair. She studied mathematics at the Sorbonne and subsequently enrolled in a variety of art courses in several schools and academies around Paris. In 1938 she moved to New York with her husband, historian of tribal arts Robert Goldwater. In addition to sculpture, Bourgeois has also worked in the mediums of painting, drawing and printmaking over the course of her long and distinguished career. In all of these, the artist explores issues connected to autobiographical experiences: betrayal, familial relationships, sexuality, motherhood, abandonment and independence, control and the loss of control. Bourgeois first experimented with printmaking in the 1940s, and has actively pursued the medium during the past two decades. Her involvement with illustrated books closely parallels this interest. In her 90s now, there are no signs of Bourgeois's creative output slowing.

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Louise Bourgeois was born in 1911 in Paris. Her family was in the business of restoring tapestries, and although she was constantly surrounded by art, she did not always intend to be an artist. She first studied mathematics in college at the Sorbonne and thought that mathematics gave her life order and logic. She had a relatively tumultuous personal life as a child as she became aware that her nanny was also her father's mistress.

The move away from mathematics toward art began when Bourgeois began to think that math was becoming too theoretical. She stated her needs for the creative outlet art provides as follows: "In order to express unbearable family tensions, I had to express my anxiety with forms that I could change, destroy, and rebuild."
She began formal study in art in Paris, but moved to New York with her husband art historian Robert Goldwater. In New York she began her work in sculpture and drawing in earnest and continues to this day to be an active force in the artworld.

Bourgeois's personal life remained traumatic, and she still had plenty of angst to exorcise through her art. She felt that all of her work was of a personal nature of some sort, and has stated, "Everything I create comes from something personal; some memory or emotional experience." Bourgeois is a very reclusive artist; she cannot be interpreted through her artwork since the statements are highly personal rather than global.

Also making difficult the interpretation of her works is her lack of a signature style. She works in many different mediums including wood, plaster, marble and bronze. And her work is usually not representational: "I am never literal. An artist can show things other people are terrified of expressing."