On View

Spider

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Spider

Artist: Louise Bourgeois (French-American, 1911 - 2010)
Date: 1997
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions:
Overall: 90 x 88 x 86 in., 1000 lb. (228.6 x 223.5 x 218.4 cm., 453.6 kg.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of John and Mary Pappajohn, 2013.1
Accession number: 2013.1
Classification: sculpture
Copyright:ARS
Label TextWith Spider, viewers are confronted by an oversize version of a creature most would view with terror at its normal, tiny size. The knobby joints of the spindly legs are arranged at various heights and imply movement, but the delicate egg sac hanging from this spider's belly is a clue that suggests this creature should be seen as more than the stuff of nightmares. The artist, Louise Bourgeois, has been using spiders in her work since the 1940s, and in the 1990s began sculpting them into colossal forms like this. Surprisingly, she sees them not as ominous predators, but as a symbol for her much beloved mother. The artist's own words explain her intentions best, "My mother, who like a spider, was a weaver. My mother was my best friend. She protected me and was clever. I want them [the spiders] to envelop me and protect me. I want them to be strong and monumental like my mother. But my mother was also ill. They reflect her strength as well as her fragility, since they balance on tiny points." As evinced by this quote, Bourgeois mines her personal biography, particularly her childhood memories, as the basis for her artwork. The allusion to her mother as a weaver refers to the Bourgeois family's tapestry restoration business, in which her mother was the chief seamstress. The statement also reflects the untimely death of Bourgeois' mother who passed away when the artist was just 20 years old.
entirely unexpected