For Bourgeois, this imagery recalled the house she lived in as a child in Antony. "The attic was very large because of the slope of the house. Antique chair frames were hung from the ceiling everywhere. My father collected them. He would take them down from the ceiling very delicately and examine them." Bourgeois talked about supporting sculptures and different ways of achieving that. If a sculpture is standing and there is "a fear of it falling," it could always be hung from the ceiling instead. "It is a form of reassurance." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 126.)
An amendment has been made here to the cataloguing found in Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois," 1994, p. 126. At that time, cataloguers were unaware of an earlier state, which surfaced in 2012. With the discovery of state I, each successive state is later (state I is now state II, state II is now state III, etc.).
The inscription on this state of the composition is part of a parable by Bourgeois; the same inscription is found on one of the State VI variants. This parable, in slightly varied forms, appears on two other compositions: "Looking at Her Sidewise," and “Ascension lente,” both seen below in Related Works in the Catalogue. It appears, as well, in the artist's daybook of 1947.
In the second half of the 1940s, Bourgeois spent time at Atelier 17, the print workshop of Stanley William Hayter. The workshop had transferred operations from Paris to New York during the war years. It is not known precisely which prints she made at the workshop since she also worked at home on a small press. The designation of “the artist at Atelier 17” as printer means that the impression was likely made at the workshop. The designation is based on dates, inscriptions, techniques favored at Atelier 17, and/or stylistic similarities to images in the illustrated book “He Disappeared into Complete Silence,” which the artist repeatedly cited as having been made at Atelier 17. It is also possible that Bourgeois worked on certain plates both at home and at the workshop, or pulled impressions at both places.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 56
The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York Public Library
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