plate: 7 3/16 x 3 1/4" (18.2 x 8.2 cm); sheet: 10 x 7 1/16" (25 x 17.9 cm)
"Louise Bourgeois." lower middle margin, pencil.
"Burin" lower left margin, pencil, artist's hand. Verso: "1. Looking at me sideways she said / would you mind sweeping that room / over, I can see / some dust near the / piano" upper sheet, black ink, artist's hand; "2. Retracez vos pas–and get it right– / 3. Upon my word of honour, sir I could / not possibly do it here" lower sheet, black ink, artist's hand.
The impression of version 2 that is not illustrated includes the following inscription: "Saint Thomas / Je suis Saint Thomas, ne crois que ce / que je vois–Great Priest / of"
Changes from version 1: state III of composition transferred to new matrix, in photogravure.
Bourgeois met printer Christian Guérin of Gravure workshop in 1989 and she worked with him on several projects, including re-engraving some compositions from the 1940s. In this case, he made a photogravure plate, rather than re-engraving the composition.
The parable containing the title of this composition is found in slightly varied forms in several places, including 2 impressions of "Looking at Her Sidewise." The whole parable also appears on "Hanging Weeds" (cat. no. 645), "Ascension Lente" (cat. no. 610), seen below in Related Works in the Catalogue, and in the artist's daybook of 1947.
Bourgeois saw this figure as "self-contained and alone... reflecting an effort to be self-reliant but also attractive." The fur of the coat is "radiating... in a beautiful shape. It is not a hacking action to make all those strokes... it is a caressing action. The surface is very organized... stable... montionless." The figure "is such a beautiful thing that she is lifted off the floor by feelings that make her very excited. She is pleased with herself and optimistic. She is out-of-reach." But Bourgeois went on to say that the figure "is probably dangerously aroused." She then referred to the title of the print, which comes from a short parable she wrote:
"Looking at me sideways, she said, 'Would you mind sweeping that room over? I can see some dust near the piano. Retracez vos pas [go back over it] and get it right.' 'Upon my word of honour, sir, I could not possibly do it here.' "
Bourgeois said that by "sweeping and dusting near the piano," the figure "turns herself into the recipient of a joke." The little offshoot at the front of the figure suggests "dusting" or "the desire to escape." Bourgeois also called the figure "self-implicating" and referred to an alternative title for the print, St. Thomas, as meaning "doubtful."
Bourgeois mentioned that the figure seemed "very full, as if there were an animal inside... yet it is afraid to let its head show, a bit the way a sea urchin might act. If it is touched, it closes up." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 116.)
In Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bougreois," 1994, version 2 was possibly attributed to the printer Christian Guérin of Gravure Inc. The printer was later confirmed as Deli Sacilotto of Iris Editions.
Iris Editions was the imprint of Deli Sacilotto, a master printer who specialized in the photogravure technique. Bourgeois met Sacilotto through mutual friends and established a warm relationship with him. They worked together on projects in the early 1980s, and then again later, when Sacilotto joined Graphicstudio in Tampa, Florida and encouraged the artist to create the multiple, “Spider Home” (cat. no. 15).
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