Changes from state VI, in aquatint: tone added to walls and floor.
Bourgeois was often inspired by the subjects of early drawings when creating works at much later dates. This 1994 portfolio is an example of a project based primarily on drawings from the 1940s and referring to her life in New York at that time. The exceptions are as follows: plate 1, based on a drawing from 1986 that references childbirth; plates 4 and 9, based on drawings from the 1940s but depicting memories of her childhood years in France; plate 11, most probably based on a drawing from the 1940s of a European hotel desk.
Bourgeois remembered this composition as related to an apartment where she and her family lived when her children were small. Bourgeois said, "This is the bathroom at 18th Street. Everything is exactly the same... the cabinet... the tub with feet... it is very accurate. I'm asked all the time... but I never say... it was a lot of work to get through the day.... It was really something to have three children and also try to work. It was a lot of physical work. I could never carry a child, even when they were very little... I had to have ways to hoist them. So here they help each other. They are happy... it is very tender." (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 234.)
Of the 14 plates in "Autobiographical Series," Bourgeois titled plates 6 and 12. The untitled plates have been assigned descriptive titles for cataloguing purposes.
The alternate titles "Tub" and "Hazing" were given by the artist, as cited in Wye and Smith, The Prints of Louise Bourgeois, 1994, p. 234.
The apartment where Bourgeois and her family lived at 142 E 18th Street was financed by Rutherford Stuyvesant and designed by Richard Morris Hunt in 1870. It is considered the first apartment building in New York City, built during a time when the lower classes lived in tenements and the upper classes lived in townhouses. Stuyvesant modeled his building after Parisian apartment houses in an attempt to appeal to an emerging middle class. His idea was first considered "folly" but soon turned the tide toward apartment living. Bourgeois referred to this apartment home as "Stuyvesant's Folly," as seen on the inscription on the source drawing.
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
This Work in Other Collections:
Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland Museu da Gravura Cidade de Curitiba, Brazil Tate Modern, London
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