When I visited Geneva on my apartment hunting trip, I spent an afternoon in Bern, Switzerland. In front of the parliment building, there was a fantastic statute of a giant spider. When we moved to Geneva a month later, the sculpture had moved here! It made me curious and I wanted to learn more.
The spider gets around; it is better traveled than us. The statute first appeared as part of an exhibition as part of the Tate Modern in London (below).
Since then, it has vacationed in fantastic spots all over the world. Temporary locations include:
- City Hall, The Hague, Netherlands
- Hirschorn Museum, Washington, DC
- Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts
- Burkliplatz, Zurich, Switzerland
- Foundation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
- Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy
- Jardin des Tulleries, Paris, France
- Fundacion Proa, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Museo de Arte Moderno, Rio de Janerio, Brasil
- Nytorv, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Rockefeller Center, New York City, New York (below)
Permanent locations of bronze cast replicas include:
- Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
- Havana, Cuba
- National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
- State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
- Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea
- Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (below)
- Qatar National Convention Center, Doha, Qatar
- Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
- Papajohn Sculpture Park, Des Moines, Iowa
Maman has been well received in each place and has become very popular.* It’s easy to see why. The sculpture photographs well, children love to play around its legs and it’s a hit with art connoisseurs.
It was made by French-American sculptor Louise Bourgeois. Before passing away in 2010 at age 98, she was the world’s highest paid living female artist. The sculpture is called “Maman“. The spider’s sac contains 26 marble eggs. You can see them looking up from underneath the spider.
It’s called “Maman” and is an homage to her mother who worked as a restorer of tapestries in Paris (get it, spiders weave webs, her mom rewove tapestries).
She made a giant spider statue for her mother, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she had daddy issues. When she was a child, she learned that her tyrannical, sadistic, father was having a long-term affair with her live-in nanny! Insert Freud jokes here. She spent her career exorcising these demons. Much of her work dealt with revenge, feminism, women’s roles and power.
She saw spiders as clever, protective, life-giving and useful. Others see it/them as both frightening and/or threatening.
*Maman has its own Facebook page with its picture in different locations.