Louise Bourgeois’ extraordinary sculpture Maman (Mother) returns to Tate Modern on 1 May 2004. The unforgettable giant spider was part of the inaugural Unilever Series in the Turbine Hall and greeted the very first visitors to the gallery in May 2000 and millions more while on display until December of that year.
Tate Modern has the opportunity to show the work once again on the bridge across the Turbine Hall. Maman represents a female spider who carries her white marble eggs beneath her. Made of steel the sculpture stands nine metres (thirty feet) high and has a legspan of ten metres. The climactic work of a series of spiders made through the 1990s, Maman accesses Bourgeois’ childhood anxieties and preoccupation with family relationships. Tate has been storing the sculpture for Louise Bourgeois and is planning a major exhibition of her work in 2007.
Louise Bourgeois is regarded as one of the most important artists working today. Born in 1911 in Paris, she studied under Léger, André Lhôte and Roger Bissière in the 1930s before moving to New York in 1938. Bourgeois has always been at the forefront of new developments in art, but has pursued a wholly personal path, removed from the major avant-garde movements of her time. She has explored her ideas in painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance, using extraordinarily varied media, from wood and stone to latex and rubber. However, this breadth of materials is balanced by an almost obsessive continuity of subject matter, often deeply autobiographical in its references to Bourgeois’ childhood.
Maman is one of the highlights of a series of spring display changes at Tate Modern. Opening at the same time are a display of the Kahnweiler Bequest, which features the recently-acquired Braque painting The Billiard Table, the collection display Head to Head in the Turbine Hall, and a recently acquired new work by Olafur Eliasson. On 12 May, the fourth anniversary of its public opening, Tate Modern launches a new series, Untitled, which provides a platform for important international artists yet to be showcased in the UK.
Maman will be on display until 30 August 2004. It will be followed by the fifth commission in The Unilever Series which will be undertaken by Bruce Nauman.