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Spider woman Louise Bourgeois to star in new Tate Modern gallery

  • artburo
  • Thursday January 14th, 2016

French artist whose eight-legged sculpture welcomed visitors in 2000 will be among those displayed in £260m extension

Her giant spider welcomed the first visitors to Tate Modern nearly 16 years ago and Louise Bourgeois will again be a star of the gallery’s £260m extension when it opens in June.

The Tate said it is to open a gallery as a hub for Artist Rooms, the name given to the vast collection of artworks acquired for the nation from the dealer Anthony d’Offay.

Since 2008, works by artists from Diane Arbus to Agnes Martin and Gerhard Richter have toured galleries across the UK as a result of Artist Rooms. On Thursday, it was announced that Phyllida Barlow will be the 40th artist to join the collection and works by Bourgeois will be the first to feature in the new Artist Rooms gallery.

It was no coincidence that both artists were women, said d’Offay. “So often schoolgirls have to go and look at men’s art and we try to address that with Artist Rooms and address that with great artists.”


 Phyllida Barlow poses beside her piece Untitled: upturned house, 2 (2012), which she has gifted to Tate Modern.

Bourgeois, who made some of her best work when she was in her 80s and was working until her death aged 98 in 2010, is a particular inspiration, said d’Offay.

“She was racked by doubt, racked by pain, but she did colossally important things, things you could argue which could never be done by a man. She got greater and greater as she got older.

“I would defy you, as a 14-year-old girl, to [see her work] and not be moved, not be shocked, not be changed, not to scratch your head, not to want to go home and discuss it with your mother, not to revisit with your boyfriend.”


Louise Bourgeois’s Maman (1999) occupied Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall at the gallery’s opening in 2000.

The Artist Rooms are jointly looked after by the Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. The artworks were sold by d’Offay in 2008 at the price he paid, rather than their worth – so £28m rather than a possible £125m.

The initial 725 works by 25 artists has mushroomed to 1,600 works by 40 artists, often boosted by gifts from artists themselves – for example Martin Creed and the estate of Roy Lichtenstein.

So far, Artist Rooms works have been shown in 76 museums nationwide, including Robert Mapplethorpe photographs seen in Dunoon, Scotland, Gerhard Richter in Middlesbrough and Jeff Koons in Brighton.

Barlow has gifted a large work, Untitled: upturnedhouse, 2, which she created in 2012 for Artist Rooms. It is on temporary display in Tate Modern.