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Etching and drypoint
Support: Dieux Donné handmade wove paper
Platemark: 21.5 x 15.9 cm (8 7/16 x 6 1/4 in.); Sheet: 29.4 x 29.9 cm (11 9/16 x 11 3/4 in.)
Dr. Gerard and Phyllis Seltzer Fund 1999.118.3
© VAGA, New York, NY
Louise Bourgeois uses art to express personal concerns and obsessions. One of the dominant themes of her work is her own youth, which she considers a magical, mysterious, and dramatic time. Many of her deeply symbolic sculptures, drawings, and etchings address her childhood relationship with her parents. In Ode to My Mother, the spider, an insect known for entrapping victims in its web, serves for Bourgeois as a caring mother figure, protecting her offspring from harm. These nine illustrations, which were issued in a portfolio accompanied by poetic text in French and English, capture the committed but delicate love between daughter and mother. Both Bourgeois and her mother, whom she called her best friend, repaired tapestries in the family business. Like spiders, they were weavers. Bourgeois once described her mother as deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and useful as a spider.
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