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Current location: News | Art & Photography

Louise Bourgeois spider

Spiderman unveils Louise Bourgeois '$6m' spider art before NYC sale

In the wake of Broadway's hit Spider-Man musical, an important piece of proto-Modern Art is for sale...



Arachnophobes beware! A 11-feet-tall, 21 feet-wide spider will take up residence on Manhattan's West 49th Street, in front of the entrance to Christie's at 20 Rockefeller Plaza.

The monumental bronze Spider, one of the most enduring and iconic sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, will be offered at the Postwar and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on November 8, where it is expected to realise $4-6m.

Spider-Man (Actor Craig Henningsen from the Broadway Hit Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) helped unveil the monumental Spider sculpture on the Plaza at Christie's, earlier today.

"Spider is a tour de force as monumental sculpture, created to allow the viewer "in" Bourgeois masterfully brings us into her highly personal, symbolic and powerful domain" declared Laura Paulson, Deputy Chairman, International Director Post War and Contemporary Art.

Executed in 1996, Spider is the second in an edition of six brilliantly rendered sculptures by Bourgeois, based upon a motif that she first used in a small ink and charcoal drawing in 1947.

Louise Bourgeois spider

Aaargh! Louise Bourgeois's Spider sculpture (estimated at $4m-6m)
storms New York City


In the second half of the 1990s, the spider became a dominant preoccupation for the artist, who created colossal versions such as Maman, 1999, which was exhibited to great acclaim at Tate Modern, London, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Three Spiders of the six existing, reside permanently in institutions in the US, Brazil and Korea.

Bourgeois has spoken of the spider as evoking her mother Josephine, who repaired tapestries in the textile restoration workshop that Bourgeois's father ran in Paris.

Louise Bourgeois wrote: "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.

Spider-Man_musical

The poster for Broadway Hit musical
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

"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."

Spider may also be said to draw on the Greek legend of Arachne, the mortal weaver who challenged the goddess Athena and was condemned to become a spider, as well as the reputation of the black widow who eats her partner immediately after mating.

These sources—personal, mythological and folkloric—combine to give a sense of the bittersweet fate of being a woman, a wife and a mother.

Bourgeois's choice to use the traditionally male-dominated domain of monumental sculpture to articulate her childhood feelings intensifies the effect and represents a repudiation of the power of her mercurial father.

One of the most significant and influential artists of our times, Bourgeois would have celebrated her 100th birthday on December 25, 2011.

Bourgeois, who died last year, is often referred to as the woman who inspired Modern Art.

However, while some critics often question whether the diamond skulls and suchlike of Hirst, Emin et al actually "mean anything," Bourgeois's works easily see-off any such doubts with a wealth of meaning, confession and depth.

Christie's pre-sale viewings of the spider will be held in front of 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City on November 4-8. The sale takes place inside 20 Rockefeller Plaza on November 8.



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Images: Christie's

By Paul Fraser
Last updated: 4 November 2011