Louise Bourgeois. Ode to Eugénie Grandet. 2007

Louise Bourgeois Ode to Eugénie Grandet 2007

  • Not on view

Bourgeois filled this composition with her own writings, in which she speaks of herself not as an artist but as the keeper of a home: "I have spent my life washing dishes and vegetables. . . smelling the burning of the stove . . . washing socks and handkerchiefs." The title refers to the long-suffering heroine of a novel by Honoré de Balzac, with whom Bourgeois identified; Eugénie Grandet was dominated by an oppressive father.

Gallery label from Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, Sept. 24, 2017-Jan. 28, 2018.
Additional text

Left side:
I have never grown up
I am standing near the window
I have spent my life making curtains
to hide the dirty glass
I have spent my life making curtains
while watching the building across the way
I have spent my life waiting
I have spent my life washing
dishes and vegetables
I have spent my life going up and down
I have spent my life afraid of the cold
letting out waists and shortening dresses
I have spent my life
listening to the chirping of the birds
the water dripping from the ceiling
and the traffic on 20th street
I have listened to the sound
of the pigeons
The hesitations of the mice
and the bees and the flies before summer
I have spent my life
smelling the burning of the stove
and listening to the starting of the refrigerator

Right side:
The telephone may be out of order
The door bell may be broken
Has the mail man come?
I have spent my life making openwork pulling threads for the bed sheets
and table clothes
I have spent my life making a trousseau
I who has never been trussed up
I give humour
not pity
I am not stupid I am only unhappy
fearful foolish a washer woman
I have spent my life washing socks
and handkerchiefs

Publication excerpt from Louise Bourgeois, Ode to Eugénie Grandet, 2007.
Only state, unique variant
Etching, with hand additions
plate (A): 55 11/16 × 13 13/16" (141.5 × 35.1 cm); plate (B): 55 11/16 × 15 13/16" (141.4 × 40.1 cm); sheet (overall): 58 3/4 × 34 1/2" (149.2 × 87.6 cm)
Osiris, New York
Wingate Studio, Hinsdale, NH
Not numbered
Gift of Jerry Gorovoy in honor of Deborah Wye
Object number
© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY
Drawings and Prints

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