Installation view of Louise Bourgeois exhibition
Tate Modern

ARTIST ROOMS: Louise Bourgeois

Blavatnik Building Level 4 East

Installation view of Louise Bourgeois exhibition

Feel the impact of Bourgeois’s intense psychological insight through the artworks in this display

Louise Bourgeois’s work is often autobiographical, while addressing universal experiences such as birth, death, love, loss and fear.

This exhibition brings together a selection of Bourgeois’s late works, alongside a small number of earlier pieces from her remarkable seven-decade career. She was born in Paris in 1911. Her parents ran a business restoring antique tapestries, which sparked her life-long interest in textiles. Though she initially studied mathematics and geometry at the Sorbonne, she soon changed direction and trained as an artist. In 1938 she moved to New York City, where she remained until her death in 2010.

Bourgeois returned again and again to a number of themes, though the materials she used to express them vary greatly. Her sculpturedrawing  and writing are characterised by an unflinching emotional honesty, as she continually retold and reworked the memories and stories that shaped her life.

a red fabric sculpture of legs hangs down from ceiling with several other handing objects and a prison-cell like installation in the corner

© Lee Mawdsley

The ‘wunderkammer’ – or cabinet of curiosities

The works in this room form an idiosyncratic collection of objects that suggests the environment of Bourgeois’s home and studio.

With a compelling need to make and re-make, Bourgeois spent her days writing, drawing, stitching, carving, casting and assembling. She often tried out her ideas in several different forms. She was interested in the distinctive properties of materials such as carved marble, cast bronze, or stitched and stuffed fabric, and the ways in which she could use or defy their hardness, softness, volume or flatness. Many of her works are figurative or make strong references to the body and body-parts, though some have a more amorphous quality.

A series of objects such as felt figures in a glass cabinet

Bourgeois kept written diaries and records. Often she would write down her thoughts and ideas on loose sheets of paper. She collected books on many topics, sometimes because she was inspired by their illustration plates, but also to study subjects such as philosophy and psychoanalysis. Bourgeois was herself in psychoanalysis for many years, and suffered from anxiety and insomnia for most of her life. For her, making art was another form of therapy that she could not live without.

Louise Bourgeois is the first artist to be presented in the new gallery dedicated to ARTIST ROOMS. Located on Level 4 of the Blavatnik Building, the space has been designed exclusively to present a programme of solo exhibitions of work by the forty artists in the ARTIST ROOMS collection.


ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of over 1,600 works of contemporary art. It was founded in 2008 when Anthony d’Offay donated 50 ‘ROOMS’ of art to Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland in one of the largest and most important gifts of art ever made to a museum in Britain.

ARTIST ROOMS includes major bodies of work by 40 international artists. The guiding principle is to show the work of each artist in dedicated solo exhibitions.

ARTIST ROOMS is owned and managed jointly by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, and the collection is made available to audiences across the United Kingdom through a programme of exhibitions, developed in collaboration with partner galleries and museums known as ‘Associates’.


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Art in this display


Louise Bourgeois Spider


Louise Bourgeois 10 am is When You Come to Me


Louise Bourgeois Cell (Eyes and Mirrors)


Louise Bourgeois Nature Study


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Related events

Tate Modern Tour

Art Burst! Louise Bourgeois

Every Tue, Thu, Sat, 21 Jun – 31 Dec 2016

Join a tour of ARTIST ROOMS: Louise Bourgeois, led by our expert guides