“Essaim” is one of two unique variants of an editioned print titled, "The Swarm,” seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below, along with the second unique variant titled, “The Sky Is Falling.”
Benjamin Shiff, the director of the Osiris imprint, collaborated with Bourgeois in a highly experimental phase of printmaking that occupied the last years of her life, from 2005 to 2010. He first established a working relationship with the artist in the 1990s, but the late period is particularly noteworthy for the innovative and complex large-scale projects that evolved at that time. Shiff made use of professional workshops for printing, but he oversaw the creation of the printing plates as Bourgeois worked on them in her home studio. He also provided assistance as she added extensive hand additions and texts, and as she combined individual compositions into multi-panel works and illustrated books.
The paper type and color of the hand additions 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 an impression in MoMA's Collection. The overall sheet dimensions were provided by the Louise Bourgeois Studio.
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