Curator, Deborah Wye: This is the puritan, with illustrations and text by Louise Bourgeois. Bourgeois was a great admirer of illustrated books. She chose geometric illustrations. She said that that was her way of getting control of a situation and analyzing it objectively. She said the rules of geometry didn't change. They weren't emotional. You could depend on them.
Louise Bourgeois: The rules of geometry were everything to me, because they were a symbol of stability and predictability. Which is obviously what my father had not provided us with. So the symbolism was very direct.
Deborah Wye: This is a text from 1947, even though the puritan came out in 1990, and shows how she always revisited the past, and her past feelings were as vivid decades later as they were when she first had them. It's actually about Alfred Barr, who was the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art and who was a friend of Bourgeois in the 1940s. She was smitten with Barr. This was an unrequited love, but she really admired him very much. He had recognized her art early on and had bought a piece for the Museum of Modern Art. So she was very grateful and appreciative of Alfred Barr.
Bourgeois actually had her first retrospective exhibition in 1982 here at the Museum of Modern Art, and she was 70 years old. I was the curator of that show. And that was the first time that her work became known to a broader public. And after that she gained a new confidence and actually created 30 more years of extremely innovative work.