"Ex libris" is Latin for "from the books." The phrase is commonly found on bookplates, the decorative labels affixed to the front or back cover of books to indicate ownership. The text, "Si, tenté du demon tu dérobes ce livre, saches que tout frippon est indigne de vivre" is also known from bookplates, and can be translated as "If, tempted by the devil you steal this book, know that any rogue is unworthy of living."
Bourgeois made this print as a bookplate for Paulo Herkenhoff, the Brazilian curator and critic with whom she had a longstanding friendship and professional relationship with the artist.
The bookplate depicts "Janus," a 1968 hanging sculpture the artist made in both bronze and porcelain (see bronze in Related Works in Other Mediums below). "Janus" is one of five different sculptures by the artist named after the Roman divinity. While Herkenhoff was adjunct curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA, he included "Janus Fleuri" in the 2002 exhibition "Tempo," and wrote about the "Janus" works in the exhibition catalogue.
Bourgeois developed the earlier states of this composition on a plate that was eventually trimmed down for the edition.
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