Proof before the editioning of version 2 as a relief halftone greeting card in three colors, and the reprinting and editioning of version 1, state VII, for the portfolio, “Quarantania,” published in 1990.
The colophon for the “Quarantania” portfolio states that “some [compositions] are individually titled, sometimes with a few variations.” It appears that Bourgeois occasionally inscribed titles or alternative titles while she was signing the prints.
State Changes and Additions:
Changes from version 1, state III, in drypoint: additional hatching lines added to upper right composition.
Portfolio: Since Galerie Lelong was exhibiting Bourgeois's sculpture, Jean Frémon, a gallery director, proposed undertaking a print project with her. It was decided to reprint plates executed earlier and still in Bourgeois's possession, because this work was unknown to the public. In 1990, after the plates had been stored for more than forty years, they were newly printed by Piero Crommelynck, and published for this portfolio. Only "Quarantania" (9), titled "Bosom Lady" in the 1940s, was reworked in 1990 by the artist.
The 1990 reprints differ in appearance from the 1940s impressions, due to corrosion of the plates and accidental scratching over time. Also, professional printing with uniform inking and wiping creates a darker plate tone. The prints were gathered in a portfolio to represent the work from the 1940s, with the title "Quarantania," deriving from the French "quarante," meaning "forty."
In preparing this project, proofs were also pulled from other old plates in the artist's possession. However, the poor condition of those plates made it impossible to achieve acceptable impressions (see "Youth," 1941-1944; "Laurel Easton," 1944; "Dame," 1948; and "The Burner," 1948). Proofs were also pulled from a 1970s and a 1980s plate. These were editioned and published as "Spirales," c. 1974, and "Femme Maison," 1984. Bourgeois chose a cover resembling that of "He Disappeared into Complete Silence," 1947 because she saw "Quarantania" as a continuation of that work.
Flowing hair is a common motif in Bourgeois's work and is an indication of self-portraiture since she always wore her hair very long. It stands for beauty and strength in her work and somtimes also represents a figure's arms, as in this image. For Bourgeois this figure is not only a self-potrait but an angel: "Its body is sexless... it floats high above... it is free... it is not tied to anybody... this is a good spirit who celebrates a happy event." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 38.)
The colophon for the “Quarantania” portfolio states that the plates were engraved by Bourgeois at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 workshop in 1947. However, dates for the compositions vary and the fact that all were engraved and printed at Hayter’s workshop could not be confirmed. At this time, Bourgeois also worked on prints at home with a small press.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 5
Bibliothèque Nationale de France; Kunstmuseum Bern; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
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