Matrices: The progression of this composition, as seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below, involved 2 plates.
Plate 1: line elements of composition; printed in black.
Plate 2: crutch; printed in red.
State Changes: Plate 1 printed alone.
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 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”
Inscription on the verso of related drawing, Topiary, 1998: "Topiary / I prop you up at the crotch with a crutch / You prop me up, l'aveugle et le Paralytique / Soutenir Souteneur"
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.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Yale University Art Gallery
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