The Prospective Spider, Louise Bourgeois

Bourgeois is well-known for her large spider sculptures. Playing on the common fear of spiders, the artist saw
 the spider as a caring and protective creature – a weaver, like her mother, who restored historical tapestries in the family’s tapestry workshop. Signifying motherhood and maternal responsibility in general, the spider embracing this Cell carries three glass eggs in its belly.

The web of the spider here becomes architecture, which contains tapestry fragments and other objects from Bourgeois’s life that recall memory and the passing of time. Two pieces of hollow bone form a pair of glasses looking through the mesh to the empty chair. One of the tapestry fragments inside the cage depicts a putto in which the genitals have been cut out. As a young girl the artist had helped her mother do this on demand of tapestry owners who wished grapes inserted instead.

For Bourgeois, the spider was an ode to her mother: “… she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and useful as an araignée [a spider].”

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark