Art Plus – Maman – A sculpture by Louise Bourgeois

© Louise Bourgeois, Maman, 1999

Maman Sits Weaving

Childhood memories
Maman sits weaving her love
Shadows carve their scars

About the sculpture

Maman (1999) is a bronze, stainless steel, and marble sculpture. The sculpture, which depicts a spider, is among the world’s largest, measuring over 30 ft high and over 33 ft wide (927 x 891 x 1024 cm). It includes a sac containing 32 marble eggs and its abdomen and thorax are made of ribbed bronze.

The title is the familiar French word for Mother. The sculpture was created in 1999 by Bourgeois as a part of her inaugural commission of The Unilever Series (2000), in the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern. This original was created in steel, with an edition of six subsequent castings in bronze.

Like a creature escaped from a dream, or a larger-than-life embodiment of a secret childhood fear, the giant spider Maman casts a powerful physical and psychological shadow.

Bourgeois work plunges one into the depths of human emotion further and more passionately than perhaps any other artist of her time. In its evocation of the psyche, her work is both universal and deeply personal, with frequent, explicit reference to painful childhood memories of an unfaithful father and a loving but complicit mother.

Maman is associated with the artist’s own mother. The spider, who protects her precious eggs in a steel cage-like body, provokes awe and fear, but her massive height, improbably balanced on slender legs, conveys an almost poignant vulnerability.

In Bourgeois own words,

“The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver…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.”

Sculpture Attribution © Louise Bourgeois, Maman, 1999

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About the Sculpture Reference Attribution & &

Photo Attribution (Photographer Unstated), Maman, (Date Unstated)

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Poem Attribution © Goff James, Maman Sits Weaving

Copyright (c) 2021 Goff James – All Rights Reserved

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