The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of April 16, 2024

Ode to My Mother

Ode to My Mother

(American, 1911–2010)
© The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Location: not on view


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.
  • ?-1999
    (Pettibone Fine Art, New York, NY)
    June 7, 1999
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Liebert, Emily. “Picturing Motherhood Now.” Cleveland Art: Cleveland Museum of Art Members Magazine 61, no. 3 (Summer 2021): 16-18. Reproduced and Mentioned: P. 18.
  • Picturing Motherhood Now. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (October 16, 2021-March 13, 2022).
  • {{cite web|title=Ode to My Mother |url=false|author=Louise Bourgeois, Editions du Solstice|year=1995|access-date=16 April 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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