Additions in red watercolor: shading, anticipating state II. Additions in red ink: fur, anticipating state III. Additions in red watercolor and pencil: facial features, anticipating state IV.
Version 1, state I, of this print was published, untitled, by the American Art Award, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Coach, Inc., New York. The publishers commissioned the work on the occasion of the Whitney's 2006 American Art Award, which was sponsored by Coach. The Whitney commissions an artwork each year to serve as the award to individuals or organizations recognized for sustained commitment to American artistic and cultural heritage. The honoree in 2006, the year of Bourgeois's commission, was Terry J. Lundgren, CEO, Chairman of the Board, and President of Macy's, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio. Each of the editioned impressions, numbered I/IV-IV/IV, went to the Whitney Museum, the honoree, the sponsor, and the artist.
Bourgeois continued to work with the composition in second and third versions, titling the print "Self Portrait." In 2007, Harlan & Weaver, New York, published version 2, state VIII, in editions on paper and on fabric. Version 3 was not published.
Cats are a significant theme throughout Bourgeois's work. Bourgeois kept pet cats, named Champfleurette and Tyger, at her home in New York. While growing up in France, her family had pet cats and dogs, as well.
"The five legged creature represents my family. I grew up in a family of five in France and also raised a family of five of my own in New York. My five legged animal is personal; it is a self portrait of my obligations. The idea of the family that stands together is very important to me." (The Easton Foundation: LBQ-0001, 2007)
The plate dimensions of this impression could not be documented because this work is not in MoMA's collection and could not be examined in person. The plate dimensions are from another impression and the sheet dimensions were provided by the Louise Bourgeois Studio.
A pouch merchandise item was made from an image of version 2, state VIII of this composition.
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