Proof before the editioning of version 1, state VI, and version 2, only state.
The eighth known impression of version 1, state II is not in MoMA's Collection. It is not illustrated, due to its similarity to another impression seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below.
State Changes and Additions:
Matrices: The progression of version 1 of this composition, as seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below, involved 2 plates in 3 different techniques.
Plate 1, in drypoint, soft ground etching, and aquatint: faces and figure in circle.
Plate 2, in soft ground etching: background.
State Changes: Plate 1 printed in black. Changes from version 1, state I, in drypoint: faces further delineated; wavy line added in lower composition; lines added at figure's feet.
Bourgeois first took up this subject as a print in honor of the birth of Peter Blum's daughter, Anna, in 1990. Peter Blum was a publisher of Bourgeois's prints and also an art dealer who showed her work at his gallery. The artist gave an inscribed impression of version 1, state VI to the Blum family as a gift. The Blums reproduced the impression on Anna's birth annoucement, a card measuring 7 3/4 x 5 1/2" closed.
Version 1, state VI (without chine collé) was published in 1994 to benefit The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
"This is not a feminist statement... it is the opposite. Nothing happens unless men and women get along. There are two sides: father and mother. The father, on the right, has a much stronger face... the forehead is bigger and the eye is higher, meaning the figure is taller. You don't know if the little figure is a boy or a girl, but it is a little god, regardless. This is a closed, eternal circle." In the states and variants, according to Bourgeois, "the changing colors and lines are like changing moods. It is happy, but watch out, it could go sour." The state she settled on is blue and red. "Blue is fundamental... like the sky." She added that she often chose blue for her clothes and that her stationary was blue with red letters for her name. "Red is energy... violence is a bad use of energy." (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 186.)
About the source drawing, 1940: "The strong figure on the right is the father, and the softer figure on the left is the mother. And there, in between, this creature appears. It is simply a self-portrait. A self-portrait with a certain attitude, of course, the attitude being... well, I don't know if I am ugly, repulsive, or if I am unwelcome. But, to tell you the truth, it's not my fault. It's the fault, or the credit, of the parents. But one thing for certain is that I have to feel—in order to be a decent person—that my parents are on my side. They do not criticize me; they don't find me ugly. They seem to endorse me, for better or for worse." (Quote cited in Bourgeois, Louise and Lawrence Rinder. "Louise Bourgeois: Drawings and Observations." Berkeley: University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive University of California, Berkeley; Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1995, p. 29.)
In Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois," 1994, p. 187, an impression not in MoMA's Collection was catalogued as version 1, state VI, before the final state VII. It now appears that the impression catalogued as state VI in fact represents the final state of the composition. This was verified by Peter Blum, who coordinated the editioning and received the impression as a gift. Initially, what was perceived as a state change in the other impressions of this state, seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below, is most likely the result of variant inking or the steel facing process.
Bourgeois admired the printing facilities of the Gravure workshop and also felt a personal rapport with the owner and master printer, Christian Guérin. Guérin helped the artist develop plates for several important projects in the early 1990s.
Bourgeois developed this composition with Guérin before the edition of version 1 was printed at Harlan & Weaver, New York.
The yellow and red hand additions are on the verso of the chine collè paper, making it difficult to discern which medium the artist used. According to MoMA's Conservation Department, the hand additions are likely to be watercolor or ink.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 112
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
This Work in Other Collections:
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
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