New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on Louise Bourgeois, the renowned sculptor and artist, at NYU’s 173rd Commencement Exercises in Washington Square Park. Some 19,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, on Louise Bourgeois:
Louise Bourgeois-one of America’s most innovative and influential artists, you were born in Paris to a family of tapestry weavers, studied mathematics at the Sorbonne and art at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse. You have traversed the media of marble, wood, paint, bronze, plaster, glass, and latex to create work that is housed in the collections of most major museums around the globe. Widely recognized as a leader of sculptural work of the last century, you have maintained throughout your enduring career an artistic connection with your childhood, famously stating that it has never lost its magic, its mystery, or its drama. Your soaring imagination is present in the creation of installations or “cells” enclosing psychological and intellectual states which invite the viewer to create a narrative for a grouping of symbolic objects. A close, loyal, and generous friend of NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts since the 1930s, when your husband Robert J. Goldwater joined its faculty, you have donated to the IFA all six copies of your magnificent sculpture, The Institute, the first cast of which is installed in the Institute’s Great Hall.
Louise Bourgeois-celebrated sculptor, prominent contemporary artist, you have created works that unlock treasures of memory and metaphor. By virtue of the authority vested in me, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.