This volume reflects both the visual and literary aspects of Bourgeois's imagination. It was created in the period immediately before she transitioned to sculpture with wood totems that recall the imagery in several of these illustrations. This small book took quite an effort to produce, and Bourgeois hoped its distribution would make her work better known. Though celebrated now, it was not initially a success. She did not complete the edition until decades later.
Gallery label from Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, Sept. 24, 2017-Jan. 28, 2018.
Bourgeois's entire text for this volume appears below.
Once there was a girl and she
loved a man.
They had a date next to the
eighth street station of the sixth
She had put on her good clothes
and a new hat. Somehow he could
not come. So the purpose of this
picture is to show how beautiful
she was. I really mean that she
was beautiful. Plate 2:
The solitary death of the Wool-
worth building. Plate 3:
Once a man was telling a story,
it was a very good story too, and
it made him very happy, but he
told it so fast that nobody under-
stood it. Plate 4:
In the mountains of Central
France forty years ago, sugar was
a rare product.
Children got one piece of it at
A little girl that I knew when
she was my mother used to be
very fond and very jealous of it.
She made a hole in the ground
and hid her sugar in, and she al-
ways forgot that the earth is damp. Plate 5:
Once a man was waving to his
friend from the elevator.
He was laughing so much that
he stuck his head out and the ceil-
ing cut it off. Plate 6:
Leprosarium, Louisiana. Plate 7:
Once a man was angry at his
wife, he cut her in small pieces,
made a stew of her.
Then he telephoned to his
friends and asked them for a
They all came and had a good
time. Plate 8:
Once an American man who had
been in the army for three years
became sick in one car.
His middle ear became almost
Through the bone of the skull
back of the said ear a passage was
From then on he heard the
voice of his friend twice, first in
a high pitch and then in a low
Later on the middle ear grew
completely hard and he became
cut off from part of the world. Plate 9:
Once there was the mother of
a son. She loved him with a com-
And she protected him because
she knew how sad and wicked
this world is.
He was of a quiet nature and
rather intelligent but he was not
interested in being loved or pro-
tected because he was interested
in something else.
Consequently at an early age he
slammed the door and never came
Later on she died but he did not
Publication excerpt from Louise Bourgeois, He Disappeared into Complete Silence, New York, 1947.