MoMA
A-|A+

LOUISE BOURGEOIS: COMPLETE BOOKS & PRINTS

Louise Bourgeois: Complete Books & Prints
Advanced Search

View Works Chronologically:

Compositions (1,574)
Sheets (5,410)



Showing 6 of 24
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cat. No. 4a-12a

Ode à Ma Mère

Date:
1995
Descriptive Title:
English translation: "Ode to My Mother"
Author:
The artist
Themes:
Animals & Insects, Body Parts, Motherhood & Family, Spiders, Spirals
Techniques:
Drypoint, Other
Description:
Illustrated book with 9 compositions: 9 drypoints, 1 with monoprinting and embossing, plus 1 with roulette, and 8 with selective wiping
Support:
Smooth, wove Hahnemühle paper
Dimensions:
page (each approx.): 11 13/16 x 11 13/16" (30 x 30 cm)
Signature:
"Louise Bourgeois" lower middle colophon, pencil.
"LB" right lower margin each plate, pencil.
Publisher:
Les Éditions du Solstice, Paris
Printer:
Harlan & Weaver, New York
Edition:
90; plus 35 H.C., and a portfolio version with an edition of 45
Impression:
"XXIV/XXXV" lower center colophon and left lower margin each plate, pencil, unknown hand.
Pagination:
60 numbered and unnumbered pages, with plates interspersed; all except plate 1 figure in page numbering sequence.
Printer of Text:
PIUF, Paris
Housing:
Unbound. Wrapper: cream, smooth, wove paper. Publisher's folder and slipcase: beige linen lined with cream paper, made by l'Atelier Bernard Duval, Paris.
Background:
This project was conceived for Les Éditions du Solstice, a Parisian illustrated book society, under the direction of Jean-Claude Meyer. Bourgeois also contributed a frontispiece, “Spiraling Eyes,” to another of their publications: "Les Éditions du Solstice: Annuaire de la Décennie, 1989-1999," a volume documenting the activities of the society. Les Éditions du Solstice was founded under French law in 1901 to promote book collecting, and it publishes a limited edition, illustrated literary work every year or so. The maximum edition is 120 and copies are distributed to members. Other examples of their literary works include "La Nouvelle chute de l’Amérique" by Allen Ginsberg, with illustrations by Roy Lichtenstein, and "Sans Titre" by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, with illustrations by Markus Lüpertz.
Author Information:
Jean-Claude Meyer, of Les Éditions du Solstice, suggested that the project be a collaboration between Bourgeois and a writer. Bourgeois preferred to provide her own text written specifically for this project.
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
72.1996.1-9
This Work in Other Collections:
Cleveland Museum of Art, OH
Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland
Maier Museum of Art, Randolph College, VA
Tate Modern, London

From the illustrated book

View All
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 1 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 1 of 9, from the...
    State III of III
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 1 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 2 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 2 of 9, from the...
    State IV of IV
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 2 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 3 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 3 of 9, from the...
    State III of III
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 3 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the...
    State III of III
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 5 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 5 of 9, from the...
    State II of II
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 5 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 6 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 6 of 9, from the...
    State II of II
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 6 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 7 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 7 of 9, from the...
    Only state
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 7 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 8 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 8 of 9, from the...
    State II of II
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 8 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
  • Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 9 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995
    Untitled, plate 9 of 9, from the...
    State II of II
    1995
    Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 9 of 9, from the illustrated book, Ode à Ma Mère. 1995

Louise Bourgeois,

Ode à Ma Mère,

Paris: Les Éditions du Solstice, 1995

Bourgeois's entire text for this volume appears on the pages cited below.

Page 9:
The friend (l'araignée - pourquoi l'araignée?)
parce que my best friend was my mother and she
was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable,
dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat and useful as an
araignee. She could also defend herself, and me, by
refusing to answer "stupid" inquisitive embarrassing
personal questions.

Page 10:
Je ne me fatiguerai jamais de la représenter.
I want to: eat, sleep, argue, hurt, destroy…
— Why do you?
— My reasons belong exclusively to me.
Le traitement de la Pear.

Page 15:
Pour mon gout, l'araignee est un petit peu tro
fastidieuse. Elle a ce cote francais, de tripoteuse,
raisonneuse, tricoteuse (Xavier Tricot), de remaillage
de plus en plus precis et tenu, elle n'en finit
jamais de couper les cheveux en quatre. Cette
analyse interminable est fatigante et visuellement
peut etre reductrice. J'ai envie de me sauver dans

Page 16:
la rue et de respirer a plein poumons. On n'en a
pas fini avec les analyses, questions a l'interieur
des questions - mincing away.
Pour une fois cette araignee admet qu'elle est
fatiguee. Elle s'appuie sur le mur (voir la prostituee
qui epie le client, dans l'ombre de la porte, contre
la porte des annees).

Page 20:
To analyse and mince away is one thing but to
make a decision is something else (a choice,
a judgement of value).

Page 25:
Caught in a web of fear.
La toile d'araignee.
The deprived woman.

Page 26:
Je n'ai aucun espoir, aucune force, aucun pouvoir,
aucun interet, rien, je n'ai rien, je ne possede rien,
pas de temps, pas de pensees, pas d'espoirs, pas
d'emotions, pas de desir, pas de besoins, pas d'opinions,
pas de plan de futur, pas de revendications,
claims, je n'ai, je ne possede rien.
Rien a dire, rien a quoi m'exciter, rien a expliquer,

Page 27:
rien a prouver, rien a demander,
rien a defendre, rien a vendre, rien
a montrer, rien a cacher, rien
a epier, rien a envisager, rien a conserver, rien a
garder, rien a laisser aller, rien a anticiper, rien a
perdre et rien a gagner. Rien a etre cachottiere,
rien a jouer la mysterieuse, la seductrice, la sainte
Nitouche, la petite secrete.

Page 28:
Je n'ai rien a critiquer, a juger, a me meler, rien a
abandonner ou desesperer, rien a ramasser, collectionner,
rien a me souvenir, rien a vouloir, rien a
apprehender, anticiper, redouter, rien a esperer
ainsi: rien a regretter, ainsi: rien a craindre.
La peur n'existe pas.

Page 31:
Le blame, la faute.
Blamer qui? Personne.
Ni vous, ni lui, ni elle, ni eux. Simplement personne.
Personne, sinon toi.
Sinon toi meme.

Page 32:
En consequence, donc,
je donne pour reprendre.
Je promets beaucoup
pour changer d'avis.
Je laisse a entendre,
je laisse a comprendre
pour mieux decevoir.

Page 37:
C'est la faute a papa
C'est la faute a Nanny
C'est la faute a Pontchartrin,
un coup de pied dans les reins a l'ane et a son foin.
Je m'en lave les mains
jusqu'a demain matin pot de grain.
C'est la faute a Pyrame et ses cent kilogrammes,

Page 38:
au pere Lhangard (vieux lard). Cest la faute aux
tetards dans la mare a Clamart.
Il chahute il culbute il trebuche, zut. Fini on rit.
Get a kick out of it.
Je me suis endormie la tete sur la table
La tete en avant. Maman, qui ment?

Page 41:
Petite maman, dis moi qui ment
Je me lasse du passe-passe. Qui ment?
Ne te laisse pas glisser sur l'exhelle glissante
des agres, les anneaux, la balancoire et
le pas de geant. Qui ment?
On seche et pete au trapeze:
qui baille, travaille, qui dort oublie, qui rit oublie.

Page 42:
Le vos cabulaire en l'air, l'odeur de la noix
de coco, Rico, Rico s'ennuie. Rosamonde:
autour du monde elle s'endort.
Voyages, souris sage
sur la planche a repasser souris blanche.
Defricher la cour, ou le jardin
dechiffrer un message, une personne.

Page 43:
Fanfaron: le desinvolte m'exaspere, il est faux.
La tante Madeleine qui coupe la laine, qui coupe
la robe qui coupe le cou.
Elle enrobe la robe dans une toile a voile, elle en-
robe le poisson dans la feuille de glaieul, le derobe,
le devore. Poisson joli dans sa feuille de glaieul,

Page 44:
biroeil a l'oeil bleu fourre dans le vase fele, brule
cache dans le vase enfonce dans la vase.
Crocheteux, boiteux, injurieux, furieux, lis-la donc
Louison la voix de la raison. Pamoison.
La Ritournelle Paternelle. Poison, unisson, punition,
pas de pardon et pas de redemption.

Page 47:
putaine, punaise, putain, putaine, punaise,
foutaise, obscene.
Rosemonde femme du monde, entends-moi!
Remede archmede qui m'aide. La mysterieuse,
la gueuse, oiseuse, facheuse et creuse farceuse.

Page 48:
La Vire craintive et vive.
Colin Maillard (blindman buff) n'aies pas peur des
gens qui ont besoin de toi. Gaelle de Charenton
n'abandonne pas tes freres dans le besoin.
Tout ce qu'ils veulent de toi est que tu sois toi-
meme sans honte et sans fausse honte.

Page 51:
Poltronne, madame, permets leur d'avoir confiance
en toi. C'est tout, ne les abandonne pas quand tu
abdiques toi-meme. Idiote, capote, sanglote.
Echos du matin, retour de la lumiere, qu'est ce
qu'ils foutent ces tourtes? Ils se dechirent un
oiseau encore dans son oeuf tombe du nid, aplati,
enclue, endormi, peri.

Page 52:
Je m'excuse (oiseau bouffe) je ne savais ou aller.
Pardonne-moi, maman, qui ment, qui ment, je
mens, je croyais savoir, je n'etais pas au courant
maman.
Attends-moi, ne cours pas, j'arrive.
J'ais besoin de toi.

The following is a translation of the French passages. (Translated by Caroline Beamish and David Britt. Cited in Bernadac, Marie-Laure and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Editors. "Destruction of the Father/Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews, 1923-1997." London: Violette, 1998, pp. 326-329.)

Page 9:
The friend (the spider - why the spider?) because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and useful as a spider. She could also defend herself, and me, by refusing to answer "stupid," inquisitive, embarassing, personal questions.

Page 10:
I shall never tire of representing her.
I want to: eat, sleep, argue, hurt, destroy...
— Why do you?
— My reasons being exclusively to me.
The treatment of Fear.

Page 15:
To my taste, the spider is a little bit too fastidious. There is a very French, fiddly, overly rational, "tricoteuse" side to her (Xavier Tricot), with her ever more precise and delicate invisible mending; she never tires of splitting hairs. This endless analysis is exhausting, and visually it can be reductive. It makes me want to rush out onto

Page 16:
the street and fill my lungs with air. Analyses without end, questions within questions - mincing away.
For once, this spider admits to being tired. She leans against the wall (see the prostitute who eyes her client from the shadow of the doorway, against the door of the years).

Page 20:
To analyze and mince away is one thing but to make a decision is something else (a choice, a judgment of value).

Page 25:
Caught in a web of fear:
The spider's web.
The deprived woman.

Page 26:
I have no hope, no strength, no power, no interest, nothing, I have nothing, I possess nothing, no time, no thoughts, no hope, no feelings, no desire, no needs, no opinions, no plans for the future, no claims, I have, I possess nothing.
Nothing to say, nothing to get excited about, nothing to explain,

Page 27:
nothing to prove, nothing to ask for, nothing to defend, nothing to sell, nothing to show, nothing to hide, nothing to look out for, nothing to conserve, nothing to keep, nothing to let go, nothing to anticipate, nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. Nothing to be secretive about, nothing to get all mysterious about, to be the seductress, the demure, the secretive little thing.

Page 28:
I have nothing to criticize, nothing to judge, nothing to abandon or despair of, nothing to pick up, collect, nothing to remember, nothing to wish for, nothing to apprehend, anticipate, dread, nothing to hope for. Therefore nothing to regret, therefore nothing to fear.
Fear does not exist.

Page 31:
Blame, fault.
Blame who? No one.
Neither you, nor him, nor her, nor them. Simply no one.
No one but you.
But yourself.

Page 32:
Consequently,
I give and then I take back.
I make promises
And then I change my mind.
I drop hints,
I imply things,
The better to deceive.

Page 37:
It is Papa's fault.
It is Nanny's fault.
It is Pontchartrain's fault, a good kick in the pants
The donkey's fault, and his hay.
I wash my hands of it
Till tomorrow morning
It's the fault of Pyrame and his hundred kilograms.

Page 38:
Of old man Lhangard (tub of lard). It's the fault of
The tadpoles in the pond at Clamart.
He kicks up a ruckus his heels falls flat. Whoops. Finished, everyone laughs.
Get a kick out of it.
I fell asleep with my head on the table
Head first. Maman, who's lying?

Page 41:
Little Maman, tell me who's lying
I'm getting tired of conjuring tricks. Who's lying?
Don't slip on the sliding scale
Of the apparatus, the rings, the swing, and
This giant stride. Who's lying?
You pine and fart on the trapeze:
Who yawns, works. Who sleeps, forgets. Who laughs, forgets.

Page 42:
Airy vocabulary, smell of coconut
Coco doodle-doo, Dude's bored. Rosemonde:
Around the world she falls asleep
Voyages, meek mouse
On the ironing board white mouse.
Clear the yard, or the garden,
Decipher a message, or a person.

Pages 43:
Braggart, he's so casual he exasperates me, he's false.
Aunt Madeleine who cuts the wool, who cuts the dress, who cuts the throat. She coats the dress in veiling, she wraps the fish in a gladiolus leaf, steals it, devours it. Fish, pretty in its gladiolus leaf,

Page 44:
blue-eyed \\biroeil stuff into the cracked vase, burn hide in the vase sunk in the mud.
Picklock, cripple, abusive, furious, will you read her,
Louison, the voice of reason. Swoon.
The Paternal Ritornello. Poison, unison, castigation, no pardon, no redemption.

Page 47:
Whore, louse, whore, louse,
Fuck-all, obscene.
Rosemonde, woman of the world, hear me!
Remedy, Archimedy, who helps me. The mysterious,
Beggarly, lazy, annoying, hollow jokeress.

Page 48:
The traverse afraid and alive.
Colin Maillard (blind man's bluff) don't be scared of people who need you. Gaelle de Charenton, don't leave your brothers in the lurch.
All they want from you is to be yourself without shame and without false shame.

Page 51:
Coward, madame, allow them to trust you. That's all, don't abandon them when you abdicate yourself. Idiot, hood, sob.
Morning echos, return of daylight, what are they up to, those dumb broads? They are tearing apart a bird still in the egg that has fallen out of the nest, flattened, trapped, alseep, perished.

Page 52:
I am sorry (eaten bird) I didn't know where to go.
Forgive me, Maman, who lies, who lies, I lie, I thought I knew, I was out of it Maman.
Wait for me, don't run, I'm coming.
I need you.