Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911. Bourgeois studied at various schools including École du Louvre, Académie des Beaus-Arts, Académie Julian, Académie de la Grand-Chaumière and Atelier Fernand Léger. Her father's adulterous affair with her governess and her mother's refusal to acknowledge it helped shape Bourgeois' work which drew inspiration form her childhood, especially focusing on relationships which ere often portrayed with erotic or sexual imagery. In 1938, Bourgeois moved to the United States with her husband, Robert Goldwater.
Bourgeois began as an engraver and painter, but in the 1940's moved toward sculptural works. The influx of European Surrealist artists who immigrated to the United States after World War II greatly influenced Bourgeois in her early sculpture, composed of abstract and organic shapes, often carved from wood. Bourgeois worked through many of the twentieth century's Avant-Garde movement from abstraction to realism, while maintaining her individuality and ability to portray her emotions through her art.