Louise Bourgeois was born in France on Christmas Day, 1911, and grew up in Paris, where her parents owned a workship that restored tapestries. As a child, Bourgeois helped in the studio, but was stricken with grief at age eight when her mother passed away. Bourgeois therefore turned her interests to geometry, attracted to its orderly and logical patterns. Upon first entering the Sorbonne, Bourgeois studied mathematics, later leaving those studies for art. She studied art at various schools including Ecole du Louvre, Académie des Beaux-Arts, Académie Julian, and Atelier Ferdinand Léger. During that time, Bourgeois concentrated on engraving and painting.
Bourgeois came to the United States in the thirties, marrying art historian Robert Goldwater in 1937. Together they had three sons, whom they raised in their apartment on East 18th street in New York City. In the early forties, Bourgeois entered the Art Students League, studying under Vaclac Vytlacic. While at the school, her work reflected the teachings of her mentor, focusing on the ideas of expressive neo-cubism. Bourgeois also developed a stronger interest in sculpture and drawing. Even though she states that her drawings are independent of sculpture study sketches, Bourgeois maintains that her sculptural work always precedes her drawings in importance. Her work deals with many different themes, often exploring her own biography and childhood, and questioning the role of gender and sexuality. Bourgeois’ sculptures, created in mediums such as rubber, bronze and stone, sometimes bear a resemblance to primeval art. This interest in primeval art shows the influence of her husband, as he often addressed this subject in his writings.
In 1945, Bourgeois had her first solo show at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York, followed four years later by the first showing of her sculptures at the Peridot Gallery, New York. Bourgeois spent the following decades concentrating on her art, and was granted an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1977. In 1982, the Museum of Modern Art, New York organized a retrospective of her work, and in 1993 Boureois represented the United States in the Venice Biennale.
Louise Bourgeois current lives and works in New York City.