Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait

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Louise Bourgeois. Plate 7. He Disappeared into Complete Silence. 1946-1947

Plate 7 of 9 from the illustrated book He Disappeared into Complete Silence, 1946-47. State II: Engraving and drypoint. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2017 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY. 431.1993

Curator, Deborah Wye: This is plate 7 of He Disappeared Into Complete Silence, the little book to the left.
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. And here you're seeing just a sample of the different stages that this composition went through before it went into the illustrated book.

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.