Many remember it as the first home for the biggest ever version (35 feet high) of her signature steel and marble (that would be the sac of eggs) Spiders, called Maman, and while it was there, it was always fun when meeting up with friends, to agree a rendezvous under the spider’s belly.
But for me, the three steel architectural towers were the most mind-blowing element. Named “I Do,” “I Undo” and “I Redo,” they required viewers to climb up and up and up staircases decorated with fabrics to a platform with chairs and mirrors. The climbs were steep – once, that is, you made it to the front of the very long lines of waiting viewers.
She was merely 88 at that time and I remember thinking: What kind of old woman is this that to enter her creative mind we have to mount these steep steps only to be facing ourselves in her mirrors? It was, unquestionably, a sexual experience – this penetrating the work of a woman who demanded so much from her fans. As the Tate itself said about her, “…she has explored themes of identity, sex, love, alienation and death.”
It was then fitting that in “In 2007, the Tate Modern museum in London organized a major retrospective of Bourgeois’s work which was exhibited October 2007-2008.”
She was born in France to difficult parents who repaired fabrics and tapestries. She studied math and then painting and in the 30s apprenticed to the great industrial painter Fernand Léger. She came to America with her husband, had three children and her art career sputtered. I thought it was interesting to read in Wikipedia that, “It was in the seventies, after the deaths of her husband and father, that she became a successful artist.”