Louise Bourgeois is considered one of the most significant and influential artistic personalities. Over a period of nearly seven decades—from the 1940s until her death in 2010—she created an exceptional body of work, encompassing sculptures, objects and installations, as well as the drawings and writings that form a common thread running through her oeuvre. Bourgeois became known in particular for her monumental sculptures of spiders, with bronze legs standing up to nine meters high. She is represented by two drawings and three sculptures in the collection of the Fondation Beyeler, which devoted a comprehensive exhibition to her work in 2011.
The exhibition was curated by Theodora Vischer, Senior Curator at the Fondation Beyeler, with Marlene Bürgi, Curatorial Assistant.
Throughout her life, the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911 Paris – 2010 New York) was accompanied by frequent bouts of insomnia. However, in her long waking nights she was also highly productive, so that sleeplessness became an important part of her work as an artist. Between November 1994 and June 1995 she created a series of 220 sheets with drawings, sketches and poetic annotations: the Insomnia Drawings At night, and during the daytime, too, Bourgeois drew and wrote on various types of paper that she kept by her bed. The proximity of drawing to writing becomes especially evident here and is also characteristic of her work as a whole. Many of the motifs—spiraling and wavy lines, plants and trees, houses and buildings—are central to her oeuvre. Combining abstract and geometric elements with realism and figuration, the drawings reflect Bourgeois’ complicity with sleeplessness, and speak of her memories and thoughts.