Art History, Artists, Sculptors

Maman by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois was a French-American artist. Even though her work includes painting, performance, drawing and engraving she is best known for her sculpture and installation art. In her sculptures she used different materials as wood, bronze, latex or marble; they could be whether intimate or monumental. Her work is very personal and with frequent references to her painful childhood. 

Throughout the almost seven decades of her artistic career, Louise Bourgeois created an innovative corpus of work that met some of the leading avant-garde movements of the 20th century as Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Postminimalism; but she never gave up her own creative vision. She also explored a variety of themes over the course of her long career including domesticity and the family, sexuality and the body, as well as death and the subconscious. Her work has much in common with the feminist art too.


Maman is probably her best-known sculpture. The title is the French word for “mother”.

maman national gallery of Canada otawa
Maman at National Gallery of Ottawa, Canada

The spider emerges in her work for the first time in many drawings made by the artist during the 40s, also it was a central image in her work in the late 1990. Maman alludes to the strength of her mother, with the metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.

The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.

The sculpture was created as a part of her commission of The Unilever Series (2000), in the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern. This original was made of steel. There is an edition of six subsequent castings in bronze. Some editions of Maman belongs to permanent collections:

  • Tate Modern, UK 
  • National Gallery of Canada, Canada
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
  • Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan 
  • Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, South Korea
  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA
  • Qatar National Convention Center, Doha, Qatar

Maman Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Maman at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain

Spain has one of these amazing sculptures in permanent exhibition. It is at the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao.

It is a bronze, stainless steel and marble sculpture and it measures over 30ft high and over 33ft wide (927 x 891 x 1024cm). It includes a sac containing 26 marble eggs and its abdomen and thorax are made of ribbed bronze.


The recurrence of spiders in her work has given rise to her nickname as Spiderwoman.


Photo credit: Wikipedia

1 thought on “Maman by Louise Bourgeois”

  1. If I could wish any piece of art onto my walls, Spider I would be a tempting choice. Definitely a creature that deserves to be celebrated in art.

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