Spider, Spider Burning Bright: Louise Bourgeois’ “Crouching Spider”

September 2, 2013 — For the past year, creeping through the ivy of Dartmouth College like the forerunner of some terrifying invasion, has been a massive metal spider.

The 2003 bronze and stainless steel sculpture is the spawn of Louise Bourgeois, the artist whose Maman we recently visited in Ottawa, so I won’t dwell too long on this one. Called (affectionately, I assume) Crouching Spider, the piece currently in Hanover, New Hampshire, is similar to Maman in that it’s a giant arachnid tribute to the artist’s mom.

While not as big as Maman, Crouching Spider is more dramatic, more graceful. The thing weighs a ton, but that weight is supported on eight pencil-thin tips like the thing is poised for action. And that action is, of course, sucking all your blood through your eyeballs and laying eggs inside your shriveled abdomen.

So what you get is a different type of horror than with Maman.

Where Maman looks like it would squash you impersonally, Crouching Spider looks like it would delight in eviscerating you and any of your extended family you happened to have with you. With spider karate.

I ran into the beastie yesterday at the Maffei Arts Plaza in front of the Black Family Visual Arts Center, but I believe it’ll be gone real soon. According to its press release, it was installed in late September of 2012 and was only on loan to the college for a year.

And something this cool, you kind of want back.