Until she was in her 60s Louise Bourgeois, who has died aged 98, was known to the New York glitterati merely as the charming French lady who appeared at private views on the arm of her American husband, the art historian Robert Goldwater. There had been a few decently received shows of Bourgeois's own work in the 1940s and early 1950s, but then the abstract expressionists swept the decks clean.
Nothing could withstand the sheer artistic elan and commercial drive of Pollock, Rothko, and De Kooning and the backing of Clement Greenberg, a critic whose thumbs up or down meant life or death. It was not until the Museum of Modern Art gave Bourgeois a retrospective in 1982, when she was already 70, that she at last took her place as queen of New York, one of the most inventive and disturbing sculptors of the century, and later of course the first artist to to tackle a commission for a temporary work to command the vast spaces of the new Tate Modern's turbine hall. [...]