On a Spider by Bourgeois
A ginormous 30 feet high spider would scare the life out of most of us. In this video three artists share their diverse feelings towards the spider sculpture made by French artist Louise Bourgeois – as a tribute to her mother.
The spider “creeps under your skin,” “it is almost like a monster,” “Louise Bourgeois claimed her space and took it for granted.” The video shows three different approaches to art and to Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture. Lars Norén doesn’t like the mundane environment in which the sculpture is placed and would have preferred to see it inside a building. Karin Mamma Andersson admires Bourgeois and her work, whereas Meriç Algün Ringborg prefers art that not only deals with the personal life but also contains a political perspective.
‘Maman’ (1999) is a bronze, stainless steel and marble sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. The sculpture, which depicts a spider, is among the world’s largest, measuring over 30 feet high and over 33 feet wide. It includes a pouch containing 26 marble eggs and its abdomen and thorax are made from ribbed bronze. The title, ‘Maman’, is the French word for ‘mother’. The sculpture was created as part of Louise Bourgeois’ inaugural commission of The Unilever Series (2000) in the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern, and this original was made from steel with an edition of six subsequent castings in bronze. The sculpture operates within Bourgeois’ arachnid theme (present since a charcoal drawing from 1947) and alludes to the strength of her mother, Josephine, who repaired tapestries in her father’s textile workshop in Paris. Bourgeois lost her mother at the age of 21. A few days later, filled with despair and frustration, she threw herself into the Biévre River in front of her father – who swam to her rescue and finally recognized the agony she was in. When she made ‘Maman’, Bourgeois was 88 years old.
‘Maman’ is exhibited in 2015 outside the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Louise Bourgeois – I Have Been to Hell and Back’, a major survey of Bourgeois’ oeuvre with more than 100 works.
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) is one of the most important sculptors of the 20th and 21st century. Her art took off in Modernism and still exerts its influence on contemporary artistic practices today. She was born in Paris, France, where she studied art at various schools, including the École du Louvre and Académie des Beaux-Arts. In 1938 she immigrated to New York, where she began her career as an artist. Though she initially began as an engraver and painter, by the 1940’s she had turned her attention to sculptural work. By the 1960’s she began to create her work from rubber, bronze and stone. The pieces increased in size and became more referential to what has become the dominant theme of her work: her childhood and relationship to her parents. Of her childhood, she has famously stated: “My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.” Bourgeois’ first sculpture of a spider ‘Spider’ (also known as ‘Crouching Spider’) (1996) made her the highest paid living female artist at that time when it was sold for $4 million. Her work can be found in the collection of most major museums around the world.
Lars Norén (b. 1944) is a Swedish playwright, novelist and poet, regarded by many as the greatest Swedish playwright since August Strindberg. His plays often revolve around dysfunctional families and the people situated at the bottom of society. Among his many works are ‘Night is Mother to the Day’ (1982) and ‘7:3’ (1999). In 2003, Norén received the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize, known as the “little Nobel.”
Karin Mamma Andersson (b. 1962) is one of Sweden’s most internationally acknowledged artists. She studied at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm, at which time her nickname ‘Mamma’ was added to differentiate herself from another student with the same name. Her dreamlike, expressive compositions are often inspired by filmic imagery, theatre sets and period private interiors. She is represented by Gallery Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm, http://www.gallerimagnuskarlsson.com/ and by David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Karin Mamma Andersson resides in Stockholm. Learn more at: http://www.davidzwirner.com/artists/mamma-andersson/biography/
Meriç Algün Ringborg (b. 1983) grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. She attended art school in Sweden and has lived in Stockholm for many years. Her solo exhibition ‘Becoming European’ was shown at Moderna Museet in 2015. Learn more at: http://www.mericalgunringborg.com/
Lars Norén, Karin Mamma Andersson and Meriç Algün Ringborg were interviewed by Christian Lund in Stockholm, February 2015.
The photograph of Louise Bourgeois shown in the video was taken by Mathias Johansson and is from 1998 when Bourgeois was 87 years old.
Camera: Kasper Kiertzner
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015
Supported by Nordea-fonden