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LOUISE BOURGEOIS: COMPLETE BOOKS & PRINTS

Louise Bourgeois: Complete Books & Prints
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NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION

Cat. No. 540/IV, variant

Thompson Street

State/Variant:
State IV of IV, variant
Date:
1948
Descriptive Title:
Figure at Door
Themes:
Architecture, Figures
Techniques:
Engraving, Etching
Description:
Soft ground etching and engraving, with selective wiping
Dimensions:
plate: 14 15/16 x 7 7/8" (37.9 x 20 cm); sheet: 15 x 8" (38.1 x 20.3 cm)
Signature:
"Louise Bourgeois 1948" lower right margin, pencil.
Inscription:
"silk stocking bite" lower left margin, pencil artist's hand; "artist proof" lower middle margin, pencil, artist's hand.
Publisher:
unpublished
Printer:
The artist at Atelier 17, New York
Edition:
1 known impression of state IV, outside the edition
Impression:
Not numbered
Edition Information:
Proof before the editioning of state IV for the portfolio, "Quarantania," published in 1990.

The "artist proof" inscription, in the artist's hand, does not indicate a conventional A.P. impression, which would be of the final, published state, and this composition was not published in 1948.

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 state III, by burnishing: pattern on central column of figure further removed.
Changes from state III, in engraving: diagonal lines on door and window added; further details added to figure.
Background:
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.
Artist’s Remarks:
Bourgeois remembered a brothel located on Thompson Street. Her subject here was "the woman as sex object... the woman waiting, and the woman used." She saw this figure as "monstrous, as an odd, wounded bird."

Bourgeois had long been interested in prostitutes. The subject of the fallen woman occurs frequently in her work. She recalled that in the thirties, as a student of Andre Lhote in Paris, she was designated the "massière," and so it was her job to hire the models. Many were prostitutes, and they made an impression on the young Bourgeois. She was struck by "their motherliness and their obsession with cleanliness."

She also recalled her father's interest in prostitutes. During the seventies, at the height of the women's movement, she became directly involoved with the legal plight of prostitutes and with their organization, C.O.Y.OT.E. (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics). (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 68.)
Curatorial Remarks:
Irregular inking, wiping, and printing on this impression results in some areas of atmospheric effects, some lines remain uninked, and a double-image effect in the lower composition.

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 printed at Hayter’s workshop could not be confirmed.

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.
Bibliography:
Bernadac, Marie-Laure and Deborah Wye. "Louise Bourgeois: Pensées-Plumes." Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1995, p. 21-22.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 27
Public Collection:
Bibliothèque Nationale de France; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Joslyn Art Museum; Kunstmuseum Bern; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Thompson Street, plate 8 of 9, from the portfolio, Quarantania
1945-1948; reprinted and published in 1990

Source
1945

NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Figure at Door. 1945
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Figure at Door
Ink on paper
1945

Source
1945

NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Figure at Door. 1945
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Figure at Door
Ink and charcoal on paper
1945

States

Louise Bourgeois. Thompson Street. c. 1946
State I of IV
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Thompson Street. c. 1946
State I of IV, variant
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Thompson Street. 1948
State II of IV
1948
Louise Bourgeois. Thompson Street. 1948
State III of IV
1948
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Thompson Street. 1948
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION State IV of IV, variant
1948
Published Louise Bourgeois. Thompson Street, plate 8 of 9, from the portfolio, Quarantania. 1948, reprinted 1990
State IV of IV
1948, reprinted 1990

Portfolio
1990