Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait

Louise Bourgeois. The Sky’s the Limit. 1989-2003

The Sky’s the Limit, 1989-2003. Etching, with watercolor and gouache additions. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of The Easton Foundation. © 2017 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY. 561.2016
Audio interview by Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield, 1975. Courtesy of Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Curator, Deborah Wye: Bourgeois went a long time without making prints. But she returned to printmaking in the late 1980s. Several publishers approached her for making prints, and she was actually delighted. She loved the medium and she was also flattered that they really would be able to go out into the world.

The prints you're looking at now were made in 1989 as only black and white impressions. She then came back to them in 2003. And the hand additions she made in watercolor or gouache or pencil could reflect how she felt that day or that time of the day.

Louise Bourgeois: And even when they are finished, they say different things at different times.

Deborah Wye: She said this building is soaring ambition. And the little house down below to the right is reality. She said that she was plagued by that soaring demon of ambition during all the years that she was pretty much ignored as an artist, and she remembered those feelings and she was expressing them in this very tall tower.

There's another thing about it. You see all the repetitive floors of the tower. And those are very much like a sculpture she made in 1953, nearby, the Untitled sculpture. And that's so, so many decades apart, but the imagery is so similar.

11 / 21