44; plus 10 H.C. (numbered I/X- X/X); and an illustrated book version with a special edition of 100 and a trade edition of 1200
"IV/X" lower left margin, pencil
This portfolio contains all the compositions from volume 1 of the illustrated book version of "Homely Girl, A Life."
The sources for the illustrations in volume I of “Homely Girl” are drawings Bourgeois executed in 1991 in ballpoint pen. She reinterpreted these drawings in drypoint for the special edition, emphasizing the scratched quality of line that can be achieved with this technique. For the trade edition, she used photolithography to reproduce them (plate marks are faux). The sources for the illustrations in volume II are ophthalmological photographs of diseased eyes. Bourgeois reproduced them through photolithography.
The Arthur Miller text in volume I is repeated in volume II, but in volume II Bourgeois highlighted (in red) select passages referring to sight. The highlighted text appears in both the special edition and the trade edition of volume II.
The special edition of “Homely Girl” is quarter-bound in leather; the trade edition is entirely cloth bound. The trade edition is in MoMA’s Collection (Accession Numbers: 29.1993.A.x2 and 29.1993.B.x2) but it is not illustrated here.
The portfolio edition of “Homely Girl” includes the drypoint compositions from volume I; the compositions in volume II were not produced in a portfolio format.
As explained in his published postscript to "Homely Girl, a Life," Peter Blum expressed to Bourgeois his wish to do a book at the time of their collaboration on the 1990 "Anatomy" portfolio (see Related Works in the Catalogue). For a long time, he had also been interested in publishing a book by American playwright Arthur Miller. While looking with Bourgeois at the book "Portraits," a collection of photographs by Miller's wife Inge Morath, which included a portrait of Bourgeois, Blum had the idea of bringing author and artist together. The publisher proposed a collaborative project, which appealed to both.
Miller visited Bourgeois's sculpture-filled Brooklyn studio and saw there, among many other works, several pieces in her series Cells, which concerns the senses of sight, hearing, and smell. Miller selected for the project an unpublished text whose subject is a romance between a girl and a blind man.
Bourgeois sees this scene as "peaceful, even though there is really no point of contact between the two... The left does not show the total self-confidence that the right does. The right is more perfect... the right is MOI... the left is you." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. “The Prints of Louise Bourgeois.” New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 217.)
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