Today is the birthday of French-American artist, Louise Josephine Bourgeois. The contemporary sculptor, fondly referred to as "Spiderwoman", would turn 101 years old if she were magically alive today.
IMAGE: In this 1990 file photo released by the Guggenheim Museum shows Louis Bourgeois alongside her sculpture "Eye to Eye, 1970." (AP Photo/Guggenheim Museum, Raimon Ramis, File)
Bourgeois, born in Paris in 1911, began studying art in her twenties while enrolled at the renowned French academic institution -- the Sorbonne. She favored painting as her medium of choice, until a fated encounter with French painter Fernand Leger, who explained to the budding artist that she was in fact a sculptor.
Following graduation, she continued her collegiate career at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts and Ecole du Louvre, later opening her own print store. It was at this store that she met her husband, the famous American art historian, Robert Goldwater. The power duo moved to New York City soon after marrying, where Goldwater took on a teaching position at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts and Bourgeois studied at the city's Art Students League. Living in Manhattan in the 1940s and '50s, Bourgeois's work transitioned from upright wood sculptures to marble, plaster and bronze, using the refined materials to explore concepts of memory and fear. During this period, she came into contact with creatives like Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, painters who received far much more attention for their abstract and expressionist art than the female artist at the time.
Later in her career, Bourgeois dabbled in teaching, working at institutes like Pratt, Cooper Union, Brooklyn College and the New York Studio School. She began expressing an interest in activism, joining the Fight Censorship Group, a feminist-minded organization founded by Antia Steckel, as well as a number of LGBT organizations and AIDS awareness campaigns. Her art continued to go unrecognized for years though, and it wasn't until 1982 that Bourgeois experienced her first retrospective, a survey of largely autobiographical sculptures hosted by the Museum of Modern Art. In the 2000s, she directed most of her art making toward LGBT rights, creating a piece entitled "I Do" in 2010 that was dedicated to marriage equality. Her social sentiments could be summed up in the following quote: "Everyone should have the right to marry. To make a commitment to love someone forever is a beautiful thing."
Following Bourgeois's death in 2010, her art has become highly sought after, with one of her "Spider" works selling for $10.7 million at auction, the highest bid achieved by any female artist. To celebrate the acclaimed sculptor, we've put together a slideshow of her works, including the famous arachnid-inspired installation. Scroll through the collection below and let us know how you are celebrating Ms. Bourgeois's birthday in the comments section.