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The artist

Louise Bourgeois
Paris, 1911 - New York 2010

Louise Bourgeois at home in 1995 sitting in the electric chair later used in Passage Dangereux (1997).
Photo: © The Easton Foundation / VEGAP, Madrid


1911 Born on December 25.


1923 Begins to help out at her parents' tapestry workshop.


1932 After earning her baccalauréat, enrolls at the Sorbonne to study mathematics, but later abandons that discipline for art. In subsequent years, attends various Parisian art schools, including the École des Beaux-Arts, Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, and École du Louvre, and works in the studios of a number of different artists, including Roger Bissière, André Lhote, and Fernand Léger.
Takes a trip to the Soviet Union.

1938 Moves to New York after marrying art history profesor Robert Goldwater. Enrolls at the Art Students League, where she continues to study art.


1941 Creates her first large-format sculptures.

1945 Has her first solo exhibition, at Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York.
Curates the exhibition Documents France 1940–1944: Art–Literature–Press of the French Underground at the Norlyst Gallery with the help of Marcel Duchamp and others.
Her work is featured in the Whitney Annual, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

1947 Publishes a collection of engravings and texts titled He Disappeared into Complete Silence.

1949 Holds her first solo sculpture exhibition, at Peridot Gallery in New York.


1951 Becomes an American citizen.

1954 Joins the group American Abstract Artists.


1966 Critic and curator Lucy Lippard includes Bourgeois's work in Eccentric Abstraction at the Fischbach Gallery in New York.


1970 Becomes involved in the feminist movement in the United States.

1973 Awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C.

1977 Receives an honorary doctorate from Yale University.


1981 Elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

1982 The first major retrospective of Bourgeois's work is organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and later travels to other museums in the United States.

1983 Elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Named Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

1985 Has her first solo exhibition in France, a retrospective of her work from 1947 to 1985, at Galerie Maeght Lelong in Paris.
The Serpentine Gallery in London presents an exhibition of Bourgeois's work.
Receives the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.

1988 The Museum Overholland in Amsterdam holds a major exhibition of Bourgeois's drawings.
The Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati presents the exhibition Louise Bourgeois, which later travels to several other museums, including the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas.

1989 The Frankfurter Kunstverein in Frankfurt hosts a retrospective of Bourgeois's work that later travels to a number of other European museums, among them the Fundació Tàpies in Barcelona.
Receives the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association. Receives the Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


1990 Receives an Award for Distinction from the Sculpture Center in New York.

1991 Receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center in Washington, D.C. Awarded the Grand Prix National de Sculpture by the French Ministry of Culture.

1993 Represents the United States at the XLV Biennale di Venezia.

1994 The Museum of Modern Art in New York organizes a retrospective of Bourgeois's works on paper; the exhibition later travels to European venues, among them the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.
The Saint Louis Art Museum presents the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: The Personages, which then travels to other museums in the United States.
Receives the NORD/LB Art Prize.

1995 Louise Bourgeois: Pensée, Plumes is shown at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

1997 The piece Toi et moi, commissioned by the French government, is installed at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.
The President of the United States awards Bourgeois the National Medal of Arts.

1998 The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York holds an exhibition of Bourgeois's work.

1999 Receives the Leone d'Oro for lifetime achievement at the XLVIII Biennale di Venezia and the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture from the Japan Art Association.


2000 Tate Modern in London commissions Bourgeois to create the inaugural installation for its Turbine Hall. Named an honorary member of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien.

2001 The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents an exhibition of her work on the occasion of its acquisition of her large-scale work Maman, which is installed outside the museum building.
The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg holds a retrospective of Bourgeois's work.

2002 Participates in Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany.

2003 Receives the Wolf Prize from the Wolf Foundation.

2005 Exhibits at the Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna.

2006 The Kunsthalle Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany, presents an exhibition of Bourgeois's work entitled La famille.

2007 Takes part in the 52nd Biennale di Venezia and the International Incheon Women Artists Biennale in Incheon, South Korea.
A retrospective devoted to Bourgeois's work is inaugurated at Tate Modern in London; the exhibition later travels to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

2008 The exhibition Louise Bourgeois per Capodimonte is held at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples, where two new works from Bourgeois's series Cells are shown for the first time.
Hauser & Wirth in Zurich presents the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: La rivière gentille, which features forty-two works on paper with images and text.

2009 Works by Bourgeois are shown at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C, and in the group exhibition The Lining of Forgetting: Internal and External Memory in Art at the Austin Museum of Art in Austin, Texas.

2010 The Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova in Venice presents Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works, an exhibition of works made with fabrics. The exhibition later travels to Hauser & Wirth in London and to Cheim & Read in New York. Creates a number of works with artist Tracey Emin and they are featured in Do Not Abandon Me at the Carolina Nitsch Project Room in New York. Dies in New York at the age of 98. Following her death, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa inaugurates an exhibition in honor of the artist.

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