17. Father and Son

17. Father and Son

The father figure and then the son figure are separated by the rising and falling of the fountain waters.

Did You Know?

The dates

2004–2006

What is it made of?

Stainless steel, aluminum, water, and bronze bell

How big is it?

Overall dimension of fountain basin: 36 feet long x 26 feet wide | Father figure: 77 inches high | Son figure: 57 inches high

Learn More

Internationally acclaimed artist Louise Bourgeois created Father and Son especially for the Olympic Sculpture Park. Surrealism, a strong influence on Bourgeois' early work and its psychological themes, informs this fountain, her first permanent project sited on the West Coast.

As the fountain's water rises and falls, first the father, then the son, are engulfed in water and separated. Bourgeois' representation of father and son suggests a vulnerable and poignant situation, as the two face each other with arms outstretched, striving to overcome a seemingly insurmountable divide.

Gift of the Estate of Stu Smailes, 2006.141, © Louise Bourgeois | Commissioned from the artist by Seattle Art Museum (funds from Estate of Stu Smailes), 2004-2006

The Artist

In the Artist's Words

“My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama...”

"My work grows from the duel between the isolated individual and the shared awareness of the group... I began to develop an interest in the relationship between two figures. The figures...are turned in on themselves, but they try to be together even though they may not succeed in reaching each other..."

—Louise Bourgeois

About the Artist

Born in Paris in 1911, Louise Bourgeois entered the Sorbonne in 1932 to study mathematics, but turned to art the next year, studying at the École des Beaux Arts, and in artists' studios in Montparnasse and Montmartre.

She moved to New York in 1938, and continued to study at the Art Students League; the first one-person exhibition of her paintings took place at Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York in 1945, and she first exhibited her sculpture at Periodot Gallery in 1950.

The Museum of Modern Art presented a retrospective exhibition of Bourgeois' work in 1982. She represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1993; her work has been exhibited and collected by museums internationally. She passed away in 2010.