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Iconic Louis Bourgeios Sculpture “Maman” on Display in Athens

louis bourgeois athens maman sculpture
Louis Bourgeois “Maman” (1999) on display at the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation in Athens. Credit: AMNA

Louis Bourgeois’ iconic sculpture “Maman” is currently on display on the grounds of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens.

The sculpture, which was created in 1999, will be on display for free in the Greek capital for seven months. The public can visit the stunning sculpture, which stands at 30 ft high and over 33 ft wide, on the esplanade of SNFCC until November.

The sculpture was brought to Athens through a grant provided by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in collaboration with Neon, a Greek organization for contemporary art.

The installation is aimed at bringing contemporary art closer to everyday life and improving public space in Greece.

Bourgeois, who lived from 1911 to 2010, is one of the world’s most famous contemporary artisst. Although she created a number of masterworks in many media, including paintings, drawings, prints, and textiles, she is most famous for her sculptures.

Louis Bourgeois’ “Maman” on display at Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens

She is particularly known for her interest in spiders, as exemplified by “Maman.” She has produced countless drawings and sculptures focused on the arachnids. Speaking about spiders, Bourgeios stated that:

“The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.”

The artist is also known for exploring themes of motherhood, which is also referenced in the title of the sculpture, which is French for “mama.”

“Maman” was commissioned for the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern in London and is one of the largest sculptures in the world. The original was cast in steel and is located at the Tate Modern, and six replicas which are located across the world were also created.

The massive spider stands on spindly legs, and it holds a sack filled with marble eggs under its body. While the title and the eggs indicate a motherly aspect to the creature, its form is inherently unsettling, producing an uneasy and complicated feeling in the viewer regarding motherhood.

Bourgeois was the first woman sculptor to have a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1982, and she has since been heralded as one of the most important female contemporary artists. Her paintings will be on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this year.

The public is welcome to view the sculpture at the SNFCC every day from 6:00 AM to midnight until November 6, 2022.

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