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LOUISE BOURGEOIS: COMPLETE BOOKS & PRINTS

Louise Bourgeois: Complete Books & Prints
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Cat. No. 635.2

Looking at Her Sidewise

State/Variant:
Version 2 of 2, only state
Date:
c. 1990
Alternate Title:
Looking at Me Sideways; St. Thomas; Floating Object
Themes:
Abstraction, Figures
Techniques:
Photogravure
Description:
Photogravure
Support:
Smooth, wove paper
Dimensions:
plate: 7 3/16 x 3 1/4" (18.2 x 8.2 cm); sheet: 10 x 7 1/16" (25 x 17.9 cm)
Signature:
"Louise Bourgeois." lower middle margin, pencil.
Inscription:
"Burin" lower left margin, pencil, artist's hand. Verso: "1. Looking at me sideways she said / would you mind sweeping that room / over, I can see / some dust near the / piano" upper sheet, black ink, artist's hand; "2. Retracez vos pas–and get it right– / 3. Upon my word of honour, sir I could / not possibly do it here" lower sheet, black ink, artist's hand.

The impression of version 2 that is not illustrated includes the following inscription: "Saint Thomas / Je suis Saint Thomas, ne crois que ce / que je vois–Great Priest / of"
Publisher:
unpublished
Printer:
Iris Editions, New York
Edition:
2 known impressions of version 2
Impression:
Not numbered
Edition Information:
Not issued as a published edition at any state.
State Changes and Additions:
Changes from version 1: state III of composition transferred to new matrix, in photogravure.
Background:
Bourgeois met printer Christian Guérin of Gravure workshop in 1989 and she worked with him on several projects, including re-engraving some compositions from the 1940s. In this case, he made a photogravure plate, rather than re-engraving the composition.

The parable containing the title of this composition is found in slightly varied forms in several places, including 2 impressions of "Looking at Her Sidewise." The whole parable also appears on "Hanging Weeds" (cat. no. 645), "Ascension Lente" (cat. no. 610), seen below in Related Works in the Catalogue, and in the artist's daybook of 1947.
Artist’s Remarks:
Bourgeois saw this figure as "self-contained and alone... reflecting an effort to be self-reliant but also attractive." The fur of the coat is "radiating... in a beautiful shape. It is not a hacking action to make all those strokes... it is a caressing action. The surface is very organized... stable... montionless." The figure "is such a beautiful thing that she is lifted off the floor by feelings that make her very excited. She is pleased with herself and optimistic. She is out-of-reach." But Bourgeois went on to say that the figure "is probably dangerously aroused." She then referred to the title of the print, which comes from a short parable she wrote:

"Looking at me sideways, she said, 'Would you mind sweeping that room over? I can see some dust near the piano. Retracez vos pas [go back over it] and get it right.'
'Upon my word of honour, sir, I could not possibly do it here.' "

Bourgeois said that by "sweeping and dusting near the piano," the figure "turns herself into the recipient of a joke." The little offshoot at the front of the figure suggests "dusting" or "the desire to escape." Bourgeois also called the figure "self-implicating" and referred to an alternative title for the print, St. Thomas, as meaning "doubtful."

Bourgeois mentioned that the figure seemed "very full, as if there were an animal inside... yet it is afraid to let its head show, a bit the way a sea urchin might act. If it is touched, it closes up." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 116.)
Curatorial Remarks:
In Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bougreois," 1994, version 2 was possibly attributed to the printer Christian Guérin of Gravure Inc. The printer was later confirmed as Deli Sacilotto of Iris Editions.

Iris Editions was the imprint of Deli Sacilotto, a master printer who specialized in the photogravure technique. Bourgeois met Sacilotto through mutual friends and established a warm relationship with him. They worked together on projects in the early 1980s, and then again later, when Sacilotto joined Graphicstudio in Tampa, Florida and encouraged the artist to create the multiple, “Spider Home” (cat. no. 15).
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 51
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
248.1992

Looking at Her Sidewise
1947-1949; 1990

First Version

Louise Bourgeois. Looking at Her Sidewise. 1947
Version 1 of 2, state I of IV
1947
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Looking at Her Sidewise. 1947
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Version 1 of 2, state II of IV
1947
Louise Bourgeois. Looking at Her Sidewise. c. 1948
Version 1 of 2, state III of IV
c. 1948
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Floating Object. 1949
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Version 1 of 2, state IV of IV
1949

Second Version

Louise Bourgeois. Looking at Her Sidewise. c. 1990
Version 2 of 2, only state
c. 1990