Matrices: The progression of this composition, as seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below, involved 3 plates.
Plate 1: line elements of composition; printed in black.
Plate 2: shading of dress; printed in blue.
Plate 3: shading of bones and shading of neck, leg, and kneecap; printed in pink and blue.
State Changes: Plate 1 printed alone. Additions in correction fluid: isolated kneecap obscured, lower left comp., in anticipation of state II. Additions in pencil: leg contour added, in anticipation of state II. Additions in blue gouache: bones and dress color added, in anticipation of state II. Additions in pink gouache: leg and neck stump color added, in anticipation of state II.
According to Bourgeois’s assistant Jerry Gorovoy, topiary work interested Bourgeois because the cutting and healing of the plant makes the tree stronger. He also points out the portfolio's connection to Bourgeois’s sister, Henriette, who had a condition that caused stiffness in her leg. Bourgeois referred to this as, "in effect, a wooden leg."
The editioned state II of this composition was published as a benefit for the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Inscribed on the verso of the second source drawing: "Le Moignon sort de la Manche Pliée"
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)
The paper type and plate dimensions of this impression could not be documented because this impression is not in MoMA's Collection and could not be examined in person. The plate dimensions are from the published impression in MoMA's Collection. The sheet dimensions were provided by the Louise Bourgeois Studio.
The compositions for plates 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the “Topiary” portfolio are related and appear to have shared some of the same source drawings and photocopy studies. Known studies are illustrated below in the Evolving Composition Diagram, and as Related Works in the Catalogue, for each plate.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Yale University Art Gallery
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