This 1994 self-portrait of Louise Bourgeois hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Haunted by painful childhood memories of her father's serial infidelities and her mother's long struggle with a fatal illness, Louise Bourgeois used art as a means of working through personal trauma while exploring universal themes, such as motherhood, female identity, the body, and sexuality. She left Paris in 1938 and settled in New York City, where she made her earliest sculptures from discarded scraps of wood. Bourgeois spent the next several decades on the periphery of the art world, finally receiving her first retrospective in 1982 at the age of seventy-one.
Among her best-known works are the monumental spider sculptures she created in the 1990s as “odes” to her mother, whom she likened to a spider in being strong, clever, protective, and creative. This etching revisits a composition she first developed in the 1940s, representing the inescapably entwined relationship of mother, father, and child, who are enclosed within an “eternal circle.” -- National Portrait Gallery
Bourgeois' sculpture entitled “Maman” was photographed by Didier Descouens in 2011 in Bilbao.