Collection 1880s–1940s

Louise Bourgeois. Plate 7 of 9, from the illustrated book, He Disappeared into Complete Silence. 1946-1947 515

Engraving and drypoint, plate: 7 x 5 7/16" (17.8 x 13.8 cm); sheet: 9 15/16 x 6 13/16" (25.2 x 17.3 cm). Gift of the artist. © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY

Curator, Deborah Wye: He Disappeared into Complete Silence is a small book that Bourgeois published in 1947.

The imagery is primarily of skyscrapers, and Bourgeois was enamored of skyscrapers when she arrived in New York from Paris after she married an American in 1938.

She makes these buildings into figures who are enacting dramas from one page to the next. She couples these images with small texts that she calls parables that she wrote herself. Some deal with fear and danger and anger, all things that she felt and wanted to release. But mostly this book deals with her feelings of loneliness when she left France and her friends and family there and came to live in New York.

This is plate 7 of He Disappeared Into Complete Silence. The story that goes with this plate is a macabre confrontation between a husband and a wife. The husband chops up the wife and cooks her in a stew and has a dinner party.

Here you see the stages of development of a composition. In most mediums, as an artist develops their composition, they bury what came before under the next layer.

But in printmaking, they start the print, first drawing it on a copper plate, running it through the press and see how it looks. Then, they work further on the copper plate and then run it through the press again, and see how it's coming along. And Louise loved to do that. She loved to revisit her imagery and change it, particularly because her moods were always changing, and how she felt in a certain day would determine the course of the development of that particular image.

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