Monday, April 20, 2009

Bye Bye Crouching Spider

Luis R. Cancel, Director of Cultural Affairs of the San Francisco Arts Commission, announces the removal of Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture, Crouching Spider. On loan to the City since November 2007, the 2 ½ ton monumental bronze arachnid has enjoyed pride of place at the Embarcadero’s Entry Plaza at Pier 14. Louise Bourgeois, at 97, is considered to be one of the world’s most important and influential living artists. The sculpture, which was originally cast in 2003 from the artist’s famous Spider series, was made specifically for display in San Francisco. So, if you've got the energy in this heat, go down to the Embarcadero for one last look.

Viewing the huge crouching dark spider out there on the green lawn with the bay and blue sky beyond beyond was disconcerting. I felt like I was in one of the scarier science fiction movies of the last decade and almost expected to see tons more spiders crawl out of the water and invade SF.

Initially lent for eight months by the artist, courtesy of Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco and Cheim & Read, New York, the sculpture’s stay was extended due to popular support. On Friday, April 24, Crouching Spider will be disassembled with the greatest of care into ten pieces and transported to a private collection in Houston, Texas.

“Crouching Spider set a new precedent for public art in San Francisco. It has been truly wonderful to have such a magnificent sculpture by a world-class artist placed at the entrance of the City were it was viewed and enjoyed by thousands of people,” stated Luis R. Cancel, Director of Cultural Affairs. “We thank Mayor Newsom for his enthusiasm and support for the public art program. His support reflects his belief that the arts are a vital part of the life of the city, and we look forward to continuing to enrich the community by bringing new works by leading local and national artists to the Bay Area.”

Ms. Bourgeois’ spider sculptures pay homage to her mother, who like a spider, was a weaver and spinner, working in the family business of tapestry repair. For Ms. Bourgeois the spider represents an ideal mother because it is a creature that protects its children while weaving for them a beautiful home. The immense scale of the spider sculptures corresponds to the monumental importance of the artists’ mother to her daughter.


Interesting article plus comments here:


Zoomie said...

I will miss this one and I'm sad that some fatcat Texan will have it instead of it being on public view. We shoulda bought it to keep it here.

Did you know that I have a Louise Bourgeois print?

namastenancy said...

I did not know that! You are a woman of many parts. As far as the spider goes - well, I find Bourgeois' work frightening. There is a real air of menace and aggression in this piece and I was glad that it was in the open. I saw another one of her spider pieces at the Gallerie Paula Anglim last year (?) and the effect was so frightening that I could not stay in the gallery. The gallery is fairly small anyway and the sculpture filled the entire space.

Zoomie said...

I share your feeling about the spider - cool but scary and better outdoors than inside, but it appealed to my darker side. :-) My print is nothing like this, a very early work before she left France; you may have noticed it - the red, white and blue print in the hall.

sfmike said...

That benevolent spider/mother paragraph is nonsense. This was a very dark, conflicted mother/daughter relationship that's out there for the world to see. I think they're scary too.

namastenancy said...

Here's a good page on Bourgeois:
You are right - the darkness in her work is right up front. Sometimes I can deal with it and other times - since I have my own demons - I prefer to stay away. Viewing it was quite a disjunct - the huge crouching dark spider out there on the green lawn with the bay beyond. I felt like I was in one of the scarier science fiction movies of the last decade and almost expect to see tons of more spiders crawl out of the water and invade SF.

sfmike said...

Dear Nancy:

There was no lawn, as your photo demonstrates, but I love that you added one in your visual memory. I saw the piece being installed and my first reaction was exactly the same, "1950s horror film with many spiders behind it." Actually, that would be an interesting movie, where the villains would all turn out to be mad scientists from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and UC Berkeley.

namastenancy said...

Geeze - you are right. I just had this visual of a lawn with a huge spider crawling across it. Let's just put it down to my idea of what should have been, instead of what was.