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Louise Bourgeois's Sculpture "Maman" on Tour Prior to Major Exhibition at Fondation Beyeler
A spider-like sculpture named "Maman", created by the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, on display in Zurich. AP Photo/Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella.

ZURICH.- Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was one of the most significant and influential artist personalities of our times. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday on December 25, 2011. To mark this occasion, the Fondation Beyeler is mounting an exhibition featuring a concentrated selection from her oeuvre. An advance highlight is the presentation of her renowned and largest spider sculpture Maman (1999) on Bundesplatz in Bern, Bürkliplatz in Zurich, and at a site in Geneva. Subsequently Maman will be on view during the exhibition in the Fondation Beyeler park in Riehen/Basel.

Louise Bourgeois’s sculpture “Maman” on tour
The both fascinating and threatening monumental bronze sculpture of a spider titled Maman, or Mother (927.1 x 891.5 x 1023.6 cm) is key work for the understanding of Bourgeois’s art. On the one hand, it represents an homage to her mother, who was employed as a restorer of tapestries in Paris, and hence, much like a spider, incessantly renewed woven fabric. On the other hand, in Bourgeois’s eyes the spider was a universal symbol for the unending story of life, whose principle is continual renewal. This is just as comforting as it is threatening, for there is no way to escape this eternal cycle. Thus Bourgeois’s Maman represents a magnificent monument to the existence of change. After compelling presentations at the Tate Modern London in (2000/2007) and the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris in (2007-08), at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (since 2001) and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (2001), Maman is on view for the first time in Switzerland. The installation of the gigantic sculpture alone is impressive, and at every site where it was shown it proved to be highly popular, attracting crowds of viewers.

The Fondation Beyeler exhibition
To mark the artist’s 100th birthday, the Fondation Beyeler additionally presents an exhibition of about twenty works, including sculptures from every decade of her career. This outstanding selection addresses central themes of her oeuvre, such as her involvement with other artists, her transmutations of biographical events, and her translation of emotions into objects of art. This holds especially for the legendary Cells, represented in the show by Passage Dangereux (1997), the largest-scale Cell Bourgeois ever created. In addition to series of works from major museums and private collections, such as The Insomnia Drawings (1994-95), the exhibition includes more recent works – including the late cycle A l’infini (2008) – which have never before been on public view. These are juxtaposed to groups of works by artists from the Beyeler Collection whom she knew personally and with whom she had a special relationship, such as Fernand Léger, Francis Bacon, and Alberto Giacometti.

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