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Maman (sculpture)

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ArtistLouise Bourgeois
Year1999 (1999)
MediumStainless steel, bronze, marble
Dimensions9271 x 8915 x 10236 mm

Maman (1999) is a bronze, stainless steel, and marble sculpture in several locations by the artist Louise Bourgeois. 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).[1] It includes a sac containing 32 marble eggs and its abdomen and thorax are made of rubbed bronze.

The title is the familiar French word for Mother (akin to Mummy or Mommy). 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.[1] This original was created in steel, with an edition of six subsequent castings in bronze.[2]

Bourgeois chose the Modern Art Foundry to cast the sculpture because of its reputation and work.[3]

Philosophy and meaning[edit]

Sac containing marble eggs
At Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft, Zürich, 2011
The original 1999 stainless steel Spider at the Tate Modern in 2009

The sculpture picks up the theme of the arachnid that Bourgeois had first contemplated in a small ink and charcoal drawing in 1947, continuing with her 1996 sculpture Spider.[4] It alludes to the strength of Bourgeois' mother with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.[5] Her mother, Josephine, was a woman who repaired tapestries in her father's textile restoration workshop in Paris.[4] When Bourgeois was twenty-one, she lost her mother to an unknown illness. A few days after her mother's passing, in front of her father (who did not seem to take his daughter's despair seriously), Louise threw herself into the Bièvre River; he swam to her rescue.[6]

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. 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.

— Louise Bourgeois[5]

Permanent locations[edit]

Temporary locations[edit]

Tours and featured exhibitions of Maman include:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "Maman". Collections. The National Gallery of Canada. Archived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ Manchester, Elizabeth (December 2009). "Summary". Louise Bourgeois : Maman 1999. Tate, London. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ Anderson, Nicole Gates (6 September 2012). "Where Bronze Transforms Into Fine Art". NEIGHBORHOOD JOINT. New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Louise Bourgeois, Spider (1996) Christie's Post-War Contemporary Evening Sale, 8 November 2011, New York.
  5. ^ a b c "Tate acquires Louise Bourgeois's giant spider, Maman". Tate. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  6. ^ Louise Bourgeois, 5 March – 2 June 2008 Centre Pompidou, Paris.
  7. ^ Home To Maman: getting to know the mother of all sculptures in the Ottawa landscape
  8. ^ Beaven, Kirstie. "Louise Bourgeois: Maman Work of the Week, 1 June 2010". Tate, London. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  9. ^ Martin, Amy. "Louise Bourgeois and Her Most Famous Piece: Maman". Art History. Answers Corporation. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  10. ^ Richmond, Simon; Dodd, Jan (2011). "Roppongi Hills". The Rough Guide to Japan (5th ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 223. ISBN 978-1405389266.
  11. ^ "Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces the acquisition of four key artworks by acclaimed American artist Louise Bourgeois | Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art". crystalbridges.org. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Maman by Louise Bourgeois". Qatar Museums. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  13. ^ Snow, Anita (5 February 2005). "American art makes rare Cuban visit". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  14. ^ [1]. 14 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d "Louise Bourgeois's Sculpture "Maman" on Tour Prior to Major Exhibition at Fondation Beyeler". artdaily.org. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  16. ^ a b de Arteaga, Alicia (13 February 2011). "Una araña gigante en La Boca" Archived 9 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine. La Nación. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  17. ^ Louise Bourgeois Solo Show to Open in Qatar
  18. ^ Louise Bourgeois: Conscious and Unconscious Archived 2 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Wedia. "Louise Bourgeois, Maman | Contemporary Art Installation: A collaboration between NEON & the SNFCC". www.snfcc.org. Retrieved 31 March 2022.

External links[edit]