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LOUISE BOURGEOIS: COMPLETE BOOKS & PRINTS

Louise Bourgeois: Complete Books & Prints
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Cat. No. 447/II

Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the portfolio, Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature

State/Variant:
State II of II
Date:
1998
Portfolio:
Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature (View All)
Descriptive Title:
Tree/Legs
Themes:
Body Parts, Nature
Techniques:
Drypoint, Etching
Description:
Drypoint and soft ground etching, with pencil additions
Support:
Smooth, wove Magnani Incisione paper
Dimensions:
plate: 29 13/16 x 21 13/16" (75.8 x 55.4 cm); sheet: 39 1/16 x 27 15/16" (99.2 x 71 cm)
Signature:
"Louise Bourgeois 1998" lower right margin, pencil.
Publisher:
Julie Sylvester-Cabot,
Whitney Museum of American Art Editions, New York
Printer:
Harlan & Weaver, New York
Edition:
28; plus 12 A.P., 3 P.P., 1 H.C., 1 B.A.T.
Impression:
"a.p. 5/12" lower left margin, pencil, unknown hand.
Edition Information:
Pencil additions to this plate differ slightly from the pencil additions to this plate in another portfolio (A.P. 1/12). It is not known whether pencil additions occur on this plate across the edition.
State Changes and Additions:
Changes from state I, in etching: small branches and details in shoes added; left leg redrawn.
Changes from state I, by burnishing: small branches removed and shoes refined, left leg contour removed.
Additions in pencil: shoelaces.
Benefit Work:
For Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Background:
According to Bourgeois’s assistant Jerry Gorovoy, topiary work interested Bourgeois because the cutting and healing of the plant makes the tree stronger.

Print publisher Julie Sylvester-Cabot founded the Whitney Museum of American Art Editions in 1996, with the purpose of raising funds to be used for acquisitions. The “Topiary” portfolio had its debut at the Whitney in a small 1998 exhibition that also included Bourgeois's 1985 sculpture titled, “Henriette.”
Artist’s Remarks:
Inscribed on the verso of the source drawing: "family tree #2 / Topiary AP 1997"

Inscribed on the verso of related drawing, "Topiary," 1997: “Robert Hughes or John Russell / Vocabulary of the topiarist / Tree surgeon / The classical style is built on topiary / French garden, formality / Tivoli, the romantic 19th century English-garden / Care-giver – topiarist. = sculpture / The couple – cauterization / Flaming / TAR + shears / Antiseptic / Water=repellent / topiary AP. 97”

Written on a loose sheet, c. 1990s:
“Topiary
The trainer, the teacher, the carver, the butcher
To reject (cut off) and be moral about it
That is the fun
To nurture and train to full potential (valuable, useful)
I am going to cut (reject) everything in sight because I did not get what I wanted
What
To be loved by 1, 2, 3, 4
c’est la peur […]”
(The Easton Foundation: LB-0050)
Installation Remarks:
The prints in this portfolio can be shown as a group, or individually.
Bibliography:
Manchester, Elizabeth. “Louise Bourgeois: Tree with Trunk, 1998.” Tate Modern website, 2003. www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/bourgeois-tree-p78621/text-summary. Last accessed November 7, 2014.

This article connects themes in the portfolio to recurring themes in the whole of Bourgeois's artwork, such as amputation and mutilation, the use of trees and plants as a metaphor for the human psyche, and the emotional significance of color.
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
416.1999.4
This Work in Other Collections:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Tate Modern, London
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the portfolio, Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature
1998

Source
1997

NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Family Tree #2. 1997
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Family Tree #2
Red ink and pencil on paper
1997

Source
1998

NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Untitled (Topiary). 1998
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Untitled (Topiary)
Watercolor and pencil on paper
1998

States

NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the portfolio, Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature. 1998
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION State I of II
1998
Published Louise Bourgeois. Untitled, plate 4 of 9, from the portfolio, Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature. 1998
State II of II
1998

Portfolio
1998

Louise Bourgeois. Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature. 1998
Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature
1998
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