Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911. Her parents were tapestry makers and introduced Bourgeois to art at a young
age. Bourgeois was incredibly affected by her upbringing in an apparently dysfunctional family. She often cited the family’s
English tutor who was also her father’s mistress as a source of her deep-seated emotions. In Paris during the 1930s, Bourgeois studied mathematics, art and philosophy in various well-known
schools. It was also in Paris at that time that she surrounded
herself with the vibrant avant garde artists and philosophers. In 1938 at the dawn of World War II, Bourgeois moved to New York City preceding the wave of European artists who would soon
take refuge in the city a few years later. Although Bourgeois was exposed to Surrealist art in Paris, it wasn’t until she associated herself with the European artists in New York that she embraced the art style. Bourgeois’ art cannot
be characterized into any particular style, but her artwork tends to have Surrealistic overtones. It is mostly auto-biographical,
expressing her inner psyche, anxieties and pleasures. Bourgeois always questioned what sculpture should be as well as the
role of the female artist in a male dominated arena.
is a good example of the menace, anxiety and drama that has come to characterize
her works. The monumentality of Spider can be disturbing because of one’s own predisposed associations with the
arachnids. One cannot help but be reminded of the poisonous black widow spider who often kills her mate after she is impregnated.
It is likely that Bourgeois intended this anxious, predatory association.