Bourgeois focused on printmaking in two periods of her life: the late 1930s and 1940s, and the late 1980s until her death in 2010. In the latter years, prints became a daily activity, as printers and publishers came to her home/studio on 20th Street in New York to collaborate. The main essay in this catalogue, by Deborah Wye, surveys Bourgeois’s involvement with prints and books, starting in her youth as she was guided by her father, an active bibliophile. It traces her activities at the printshops of the Art Students League and Atelier 17, where she honed her skills, and also at home where she made prints on a small press she had acquired. When Bourgeois turned definitively to sculpture in the late 1940s, she ceased her work in printmaking. She took up the medium again in the late 1980s, when she was in her late 70s, and she continued, actively, up until the age of 98.
This catalogue also includes Wye’s chapter introductions exploring themes and motifs that preoccupied Bourgeois throughout her career, in all the mediums. Here, her prints are seen in the context of her sculptures and drawings in the following essays: Architecture Embodied, Abstracted Emotions, Fabric of Memory, Alone and Together, Forces of Nature, and Lasting Impressions. In addition, a section called Working Relationships includes interviews between Wye and three of Bourgeois’s most significant collaborators: Jerry Gorovoy, her assistant for 30 years; Felix Harlan, master printer of Harlan & Weaver workshop; and Benjamin Shiff, publisher of the Osiris imprint. All essays are available in a downloadable version.