In a dramatic gesture underscoring the unexpected possibilities that art may bring to public spaces, a monumental bronze sculpture of a crouching spider is on view through April 2007 on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
On loan to the Museum from a private collection, the large-scale sculpture, with its globular body and eight long spindly legs, was created by the internationally renowned artist Louise Bourgeois and is one of a celebrated series of works that she began producing in the early 1990s. It measures nearly nine feet high and more than 27 feet wide. Variations on the spider have been installed at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Tate Modern in London, the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain; and at Rockefeller Center in New York, among other indoor and outdoor sites.
This project in Philadelphia has been funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of its commitment to providing public art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and to enhancing the boulevard more broadly.
Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: "When we learned of the opportunity to display this work by Louise Bourgeois, we could clearly imagine what a powerful fascination it could exert. It is so unexpected in its scale, and we believe it will provoke remarkable encounters with our visitors. We are grateful to The Pew Charitable Trusts and to the Louise Bourgeois Studio, Robert Storr, the Museum's Consulting Curator of Contemporary Art, and Cheim & Read in New York for helping to make the loan possible."
Rebecca Rimel, President and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts, added: "The Pew Charitable Trusts is honored and excited to support the Philadelphia Museum of Art in bringing this magnificent sculpture to the Museum and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway," said Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts. "What a wonderful contribution this unique piece will provide to a renewed museum mile and its many public sculptures."
Born in 1911 in Paris, Louise Bourgeois studied under Fernand Léger, André Lhôte and Roger Bissière in the 1930s before moving to New York in 1938. Strongly influenced by surrealism, her work is found in many major public and private collections around the world, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1993, Louise Bourgeois represented the United States at the Venice Biennale and her work will be the subject of a major exhibition opening next year at the Tate Modern, London, and traveling to Paris, New York, and Los Angeles.
Her sculpture and installations are distinguished by her singular use of bronze and marble, as well as less formal materials including latex, wax, plaster, and cement. She is known for her work's striking biomorphic forms, autobiographical content and universal appeal. Crouching Spider, at once threatening and playful, is in part a reference to Bourgeois's mother, who was a tapestry weaver described by the artist as being industrious and protecting.
The installation of Crouching Spider on the East Terrace will coincide with a Louise Bourgeois exhibition this summer at The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) from July 8 through September 16, 2006. FWM is known for its commitment to new materials and new media. The Bourgeois exhibition will present recent sculptures, multiples and the artist's book Ode à l'Oubli, together with the costumes and video documentation from Bourgeois's 1992 performance She Lost It, created in collaboration with FWM. A video of the performance will be on view throughout the exhibition, along with a film by Brigitte Cornand, Louise Bourgeois: C'est le murmure de l'eau qui chante, which profiles the artist.
Marion Boulton Stroud, FWM Founder/Artistic Director, said: "Louise Bourgeois, one of the very best living artists of our time, has had an abiding fascination with the physical and metaphorical qualities of textiles, using them to profound effect. It is a tremendous honor to have Bourgeois's extraordinary work shown simultaneously at The Fabric Workshop and Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art."