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Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Spider’ Sculpture Just Sold for $40 Million USD at Art Basel

An emphatic sale to kick off the fair’s Swiss edition.

Do you remember those giant spiders in the second Harry Potter film? Louise Bourgeois once created several massive steel spiders very similar in appearance to those seen in the movie — one of which just sold for $40m USD at Art Basel in Switzerland.

Overlooking Hauser & Wirth’s booth at the fair, the work was created in 1996 as part of Bourgeouis’ spider series. Appearing both menacing and enticing, the towering spider, much like Bourgeois’ oeuvre, is rooted in memory. “The Spider is an ode to my mother.,” the artist once said. “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 helpful and protective, just like my mother.”

The French-American artist, who passed away in 2010 at the age 98, first explored the spider as an artistic motif back in 1947. Bourgeois saw the eight-legged arachnid, which spins a web from its body, as a metaphor for her own creative process. In celebration of the gallery’s 30th anniversary, Hauser & Wirth president Marc Payot lauded over the work, hailing Spider (1996) as an “icon of 20th-century art.”

The sculpture sold to a private collector yesterday and now ranks as one of the most lucrative sales by a woman artist in history. Art Basel’s Swiss fair is well underway and will run until June 19.

In case you missed it, Victor Pinchuk will auction his Jeff Koons sculpture in aid of Ukraine.

Art Basel
MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd.
Messeplatz 10
4005 Basel, Switzerland

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