Lot 34
  • 34

Louise Bourgeois

10,000,000 - 15,000,000 USD
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  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Spider IV
  • stamped with the artist's initials LB, edition number 2/6, and fabrication date 97
  • bronze
  • 80 by 71 by 21 in. 203.2 by 180.3 by 53.3 cm.
  • Conceived in 1996, this work was cast in 1997 and is number two from an edition of six plus one artist's proof.


The Artist
Galerie Piece Unique, Paris
Private Collection, Paris (acquired from the above)
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Milan, Fondazione Prada, Louise Bourgeois: Blue Days and Pink Days, May – June 1997, p. 231, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, De Re Metallica, June – July 1997 (ed. no. 1/6)
Yokohama, Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, November 1997 – January 1998, p. 40, illustrated (with the artist) and p. 97, illustrated in color (the present work)
Virginia Beach, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Objectivity: International Objects of Subjectivity, December 1997 – February 1998 (ed. no. 1/6)
Bordeaux, CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux; Lisbon, Foundation Belem; Malmo, Kunsthalle Malmo; and London, Serpentine Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, January 1998 - January 1999, p. 29, illustrated in color (ed. no. unknown) and p. 123, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Louise Bourgeois, February – March 1999 , p. 105, illustrated in color (ed. no. unknown)  and p. 140, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Louise Bourgeois, February – May 1999, p. 38, illustrated in color (Vol. I) (steel)
Cologne, Trinity Church, Macht und Fursorge/Mother and Care: The Image of the Mother in Contemporary Art, August – October 1999, p. 12, illustrated in color (ed. no. 3/6)
Paris, Donjon de Vez, Fabulous Animals, June – September 2002, p. 33, illustrated in color (AP) 
Hamilton, Bermuda, The Ace Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, August – October 2002 (steel)
Tokyo, Shiraishi Contemporary Art, Inc, Spiders: Louise Bourgeois, May – June 2003 (AP) 
Rovereto, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto; and Düsseldorf, Kunst Palast, Beauty and the Beasts, December 2004 – December 2005 (steel)
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gorge (L): Oppression and Relief in Art, October 2006 - January 2007, n.p., pl. 30, illustrated in color (ed. no. unknown)
Doha, Qatar Museums Authority, QMA Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: Conscious and Unconscious, January – June 2012, p. 29, illustrated (with the artist) (steel) and p. 66, illustrated in color (AP)
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Bronze, September – December 2012, p. 250 and p. 280, illustrated in color (AP)


Marie-Laure Bernadac, Louise Bourgeois: Recent Work, London, 1998, illustrated on the front cover (with the artist) (steel)
Louise Bourgeois, “La Autoexpresión Es Sagrada Y Fatal," Arte y Parte 23, November 1999, p. 58, ilustrated (steel)
Mignon Nixon and Jon Bird, eds., Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1999, p. 74, illustrated (steel)
Taeman Choi, "Exhibition and Theme: Louise Bourgeois," Art Magazine Wolgan Misool, September 2000, p. 104, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern, Louise Bourgeois, 2000, p. 51, illustrated (steel)
Uta Grosenick, Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century, Germany, 2001, p. 65, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Martine Schneider-Speller, ed., Louise Bourgeois: Recent Sculptures and Drawings, Luxembourg, 2002, p. 124, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, Runaway Girl: The Artist Louise Bourgeois, New York, 2003, p. 22, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Exh. Cat., Poland, Zacheta Gallery of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Geometry of Desire, p. 207, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Exh. Cat., Berlin, Akademie der Kunst, Louise Bourgeois: Intime Abstraktionen, Germany, 2003, p. 116, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Robert Storr, Paulo Herkenhoff, and Allan Schwartzman, Louise Bourgeois, London, 2003, p. 19, illustrated (in installation) (steel)
Thomas Kellein, Garden-Landscape Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Germany, 2004, n.p., illustrated (brochure)
PLOP: Recent Projects of the Public Art Fund, London and New York, 2004, p. 63, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien, Louise Bourgeois: Aller-Retour, 2005, p. 207, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Peter Weiermair, Eccentrics, Germany, 2006, p. 27, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern (and travelling), Louise Bourgeois, 2007, p. 18, fig. no. 5, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Nancy Spero, Helmut Lang, Elaine Showalter, and Denyse Bertoni, "Louise Bourgeois I-III," Tate Etc., Issue 11, Autumn 2007, p. 59, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Marika Wachtmeister, Patrick Amellem, Ingela Lind, Bera Nordal, and Griselda Pollock, Louise Bourgeois: Maman, The Wanås Foundation, Sweden, 2007, p. 83, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Richard D. Marshall, "Interview with Louise Bourgeois," Whitewall, no. 8, Winter 2008, p. 125 illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Claude Pommereau, ed., "Louise Bourgeois au Centre Pompidou," Beaux Arts Magazine, March 2008, illustrated on the front cover (with the artist) (steel)
Suzanne Russell, Focus on Contemporary Art, Denmark, 2009, p. 55, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
Ulf Küster, Louise Bourgeois, Germany, 2011, p. 120, illustrated (with the artist) (steel)
"Alloyed Delights," Financial Times, September 13, 2012, p. 11, illustrated in color
Lea Triendl, "Louise Bourgeois: Passage Dangereux," Vernissage Ausstellungen, Heidelberg, 2012, illustrated on the front cover (with the artist) (steel), p. 3 and p. 17, illustrated 
Sarah P. Hanson, "Fortune's Son," Art + Auction, November 2013, p. 181, illustrated in color (in installation)

Catalogue Note

Stirring with the vigor of imminent action, Louise Bourgeois’ massively scaled Spider IV swells with a palpable energy that belies the inherent stasis of its cast bronze form. Conceived in 1996 and cast just one year later, this affecting sculpture is a dynamic iteration on what has become the most celebrated series of the artist’s career and arguably her signature theme. More so than any other cast iterations of the spider form, Spider IV bears a complex large configuration characterized by dynamic coiled limbs and one gracefully extended bent leg. The present work is further distinguished by its presence in the iconic photograph captured by Peter Bellamy, in which Bourgeois wraps her arms lovingly around the spider’s two wiry hind legs. Reproduced in nearly every publication on the artist, this portrait has become synonymous with her work - and subsequently, it is this version of the spider, Spider IV, that has become her most iconic, recognizable, and perpetually enduring iteration of her beloved form. Spider IV broadcasts an inimitable vitality, at once sentimental and foreboding, nostalgic and powerful. For Bourgeois, art was more than just a means of expression; rather it was a way of carving a place out for herself in the world. The metaphors and symbolic figurations that populate her oeuvre navigate the thin divide between several dualities: the self and the other, nurture and destruction, love and abandonment.

At once poignant, powerful, menacing and nostalgic, Bourgeois' Spider assumes full command of its surroundings, its legs advancing, probing and coiling in repose, suggestive of both action and contemplation. Emerging first in the ephemeral environment of her early drawings, Bourgeois' Spider eventually towered triumphantly over the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2000 with the gargantuan Maman of 1999. The resurgence of the Spider in sculptural form in Bourgeois’ work of the mid 1990s was momentous and revelatory, attesting to the primacy of this frightening yet fragile creature in the artist’s imagination. Bourgeois’ expressive and potent arachnid also looms large as an icon of modern sculpture, with several iterations of the Spider held in prestigious international private and museum collections.

Images of the spider recur throughout Bourgeois’ work, constituting a prolonged series of drawings, sculptures, prints and installations, each representing a large creature hovering over a page, a wall, a ceiling a room, or above one of the artist’s architectural Cell installations. Spiders are powerfully evocative, sparking primal emotions ranging from fear to comfort, and for Bourgeois, they spoke of childhood and a narrative of home, filled with woven webs of past memories informing her present. In a text published for her 1998 European travelling exhibition, the artist related an extensive dream narrative about visiting a house that is in fact her subconscious. Within this house of memory and reflection, the Spider is the other being, acting as both a threatening predator and a nurturing presence fostering creativity. As the Spider wove, so Bourgeois drew and sculpted. In biographical terms, the Bourgeois family business was to restore antique tapestries, so the narrative aspect of art was a core concept that Bourgeois used to potent effect with her metaphorical mother, the Spider. “An eight-legged shadow will loom over me. I wouldn’t be afraid though...The spider would...begin to sew, for me and forever, a huge web to tuck me in. She’d seal all the openings, block all the doors, repair all the torn fabric, line the stairs with downy threads to soften potential falls, fill all the empty corners. She’d stay here forever, by my side…” (Louise Bourgeois quoted in Exh. Cat., London, Serpentine Gallery, Louise Bourgeois, 1998, p. 10)

The maternal, nurturing character of the Spider is unmistakable in Bourgeois’ dream-play, and becomes explicit in a text published with a suite of nine Spider etchings from 1955 titled Ode à Ma Mère: “The friend (the spider - why the spider?) because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider. She could also defend herself, and me…” (Louise Bourgeois quoted in Robert Storr, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois, New York, 2016, p. 545) The final allusion to a need for protection hints at the very contradictory emotions and impulses of this most complex artist, all emanating from the basic trauma of her early life, which she filtered through her art to construct a mythic legend that permeated her aesthetic psyche. Outwardly, the Bourgeois family was a model of gentility and lived comfortably in their residences in Paris and the countryside. Yet, the inner life of the Bourgeois home seethed with marital tensions that were not well-hidden from the children. Their tutor was a young woman who was also their father’s mistress, a situation reluctantly accepted by their mother, who eventually died after a protracted illness. The profound and complex psychological effect of this marital triangle with its underlying cross-currents of betrayal and fidelity has become the accepted ‘myth’ around which Bourgeois’ artistic identity has been constructed, both by critics and the artist herself.

While Spider IV and its illustrious family of arachnids of different shapes and sizes are exceptionally personal works, Bourgeois’ art still retains a deeply mysterious and subtle air, hinting at reserves of experience and memory that may mirror both the artist and the viewer’s perception. In writing of Bourgeois’ rich metaphorical landscape, Jerry Gorovoy commented; “Through shape and line, material and texture, Bourgeois is able to give a palpable specificity to her memories. More than just marking time, and nostalgic reminiscing, Bourgeois wants through her sculpture to re-create the past, to have total recall to the emotions, to analyze the event, to control it, to correct it, and finally to forgive and forget it...Bourgeois’ sculptures mark a collection of traumas, fears, anxieties, resentments, and unfulfilled desires which through her sculptures she is able to exorcise.” (Exh. Cat., Yokohama Museum of Art, Louise Bourgeois: Homesickness, 1997, n.p.)