A tiny, slender woman with long hair tied back in a ponytail, regal posture, a shrewd expression and a forceful walk swept through the Pierre Matisse Gallery, an entourage of young men trailing behind her. She was dressed in black, and her presence acted on the room like a bolt of electricity. “Who is that?” I asked my husband. “Louise Bourgeois.” “Oh, of course,” I answered. A couple of years earlier, in 1982, the Museum of Modern Art had mounted a major show of her work. Curated by Deborah Wye, the exhibition brought the 71-year-old Bourgeois, who had been showing painting and sculpture in New York since the 40s, into the art-world limelight.

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