The Museum of Modern Art has launched Louise Bourgeois: The Complete Prints & Books, a major website documenting Bourgeois’s extensive work in the printmaking medium. This site offers a range of innovative, interactive approaches to the artist’s work, including the ability to examine her creative process, and to place her prints and illustrated books within the broader context of her sculpture and drawings. When discussing the various mediums, Bourgeois said: “There is no rivalry…they say the same things in different ways.” All of these works explore her fundamental themes of loneliness, anxiety, fear, jealousy, anger, and pain.
In 1990, Bourgeois decided to donate a full archive of her printed work to MoMA. This includes all completed compositions, as well as the many states and variations leading up to them. Numbering some 3,500 sheets, this unique collection makes it possible to reconstruct the artist’s step-by-step working methods. The website presents, diagrammatically, all the stages of Bourgeois’s evolving compositions and reveals the myriad ways in which she altered shapes, added tiny scratched lines, or experimented with vivid color, all in pursuit of a final vision. In addition, individual works can be examined at close range through a “Zoom” feature—particularly useful for studying prints—or compared and contrasted with a pioneering “Compare Works” mode.
The Louise Bourgeois: The Complete Prints & Books website is the work of an integrated team of contributors, including MoMA’s curatorial, digital media, and collection and exhibition technologies staffs, as well as independent web designers and programmers and the staff of the Louise Bourgeois Studio. My own involvement with Bourgeois began when we met in 1976. I have been a committed scholar of her work ever since, and a friend until her death in 2010. The launch of what will be the definitive scholarly resource on Bourgeois’s prints—aimed also at the general art public—is a source of great pride and a sense of accomplishment for me, as well as for the entire Department of Prints and Illustrated Books at MoMA.
Please visit MoMA.org/bourgeoisprints to learn more about Louise Bourgeois’s prints and illustrated books, and her creative process.