WASHINGTON, DC.- An eight-legged sentinel now greets visitors on their way into the Hirshhorn Museum. Standing at nearly 25 feet tall, Louise Bourgeois’ large bronze and steel sculpture “Crouching Spider” inspires an eerie fascination in passersby. There is no need to be afraid, since the artist describes her spiders as iconic “guardians,” a “defense against evil.” Since its installation earlier this week, the work of art has become an instant attraction to visitors eager to be photographed with the Jurassic-sized arachnid.
“Crouching Spider” is now on view at the Independence Avenue entrance to the Hirshhorn in anticipation of the Feb. 26 opening of “Louise Bourgeois,”a major retrospective that includes more than 120 sculptures, paintings and drawings.
The exhibition opens with Bourgeois’ early drawings and paintings, followed by the sculptural series of “Personages,” starkly abstracted standing figures created in the aftermath of World War II. Subsequent sculptures hang from the ceiling (“Spiral Woman,” “Arch of Hysteria,” “Janus” and “Legs”), attach to walls (“Torso Self-Portrait” and “Mamelles”), and are secreted in dramatic enclosures (“Destruction of the Father”).
The exhibited works encompass a startling array of images and materials, ranging from traditional plaster, bronze, marble and wood to plastic, resin, latex, wax, steel fences, toy doll fragments, electric lights, fabrics, glass, rubber and found objects. The highlight of the exhibition is a stellar array of Bourgeois’ rarely seen masterpieces: the large structured environments known as the “Cell” series, including “Cell (Choisy),” the autobiographical duo “Red Room (Parents)” and “Red Room (Child),” and the nightmarish “Spider” cell.
The Hirshhorn presentation of “Louise Bourgeois”is the last chance for the public to see the exhibition that began its tour in London and ends here in Washington, D.C. The Hirshhorn presentation will include a number of works from the museum’s own collection, not seen in other presentations on the tour. The exhibition will run through May 17, 2009.