9 December 2011

Spider sculpture by Louise Joséphine Bourgeois

The giant metal spider sculpture is made from ribbed bronze and can be seen outside The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.  It is the work of the French-American artist Louise Joséphine Bourgeois.  It has a surreal look about it and resembles a run-away extra out of a science-fiction film and in my opinion, could well be used by psychiatrists as a cure to treat arachnophobia.  Interestingly, this giant spider sculpture is called "Maman" in French which translates as "Mother" in English.  Rather an odd name, as I am sure it certainly does not personify the mother image most people have in their mind.  I believe it is called "Maman" as it is said to be a female spider and the  ribbed bronze sac like structure underneath it is said to contain 26 marble eggs.

As a person who used to suffer from arachnophobia, I know that this is no laughing matter and I am including a link to a website which explains in detail this particular phobia against spiders and scorpions.  It suggests that some therapists choose to have the patient partake in what is known as "exposure therapy" that is they expose the patient to images of virtual spiders and then gradually to live spiders.  This is how my phobia was cured although, I hasten to add that I did not have the comfort of sitting in a studio watching virtual spiders.  I had to endure daily encounters with real live spiders in the basement and in the garden of our previous house.

"Louise Joséphine Bourgeois 25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010), was a renowned French-American artist and sculptor, best known for her contributions to both modern and contemporary art, and for her spider structures, titled Maman which resulted in her being nicknamed the Spiderwoman.  She is recognized today as the founder of confessional art.

Maman (1999) is a sculpture by the artist Louise Bourgeois. The sculpture, which resembles a spider, is over 30ft high and over 33ft wide, with a sac containing 26 marble eggs. Its abdomen and thorax are made up of ribbed bronze.

Maman is amongst the world's largest and most impressive sculptures. Bourgeois created "Maman " as a part of her inaugural commission of The Unilever Series in 1999 for Tate Modern Museum's vast Turbine Hall. Acquiring this magnificent sculpture is considered as one of the Tate Museum's historical moments. Maman was first displayed outside the Tate Museum of London in 2000. It was received with the mixed reactions of amazement and amusement.

The sculpture picks up the theme of the arachnid that Bourgeois had first contemplated in a small ink and charcoal drawing in 1947. It alludes to the strength of Bourgeois' mother, with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection. Her mother Josephine was a woman who repaired tapestries in her father's textile restoration workshop in Paris. Bourgeois lost her mother at the age of twenty-one."

Maman, the giant metal spider sculpture is over 30ft high and over 33ft wide.  Here it is with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in the background

A detailed photograph showing the ribbed bronze sac containing 26 marble eggs.

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