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Cat. No. 544

Mirror for Red Room

Only state
Abstraction, Objects, Spirals
Smooth, wove paper
sheet: 25 x 19 1/2" (63.5 x 49.5 cm)
"Louise Bourgeois" lower right sheet, pencil.
Fundaçao Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo
Derriere L'Etoile Studios, New York
25; plus 5 A.P., 5 H.C., 4 P.P., 1 B.A.T.
"A.P. 5/5" lower left sheet, pencil, unknown hand.
Benefit Work:
For Fundaçao Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo
"Mirror for Red Room" is one of four lithographs published in conjunction with Bourgeois's presentation at the XXIII International São Paulo Biennial, held from October 5 to December 15, 1996. Bourgeois's project was organized by Jens Olesen, then the International Vice President of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.

The three other lithographs published for the occasion are "Le Cauchemar de Hayter," "Insomnia," and "Insomnia," seen in Related Works in the Catalogue below. All four compositions are based on source drawings.

Maurice Sanchez, of Derriere L'Etoile Studios, New York, printed this composition in multiple colors on an offset lithography press to capture the artist's particular touch and produce the edition to the artist's satisfaction.
Artist’s Remarks:
When asked why mirrors are so important to her, Bourgeois said: "Mirror means the acceptance of the self. So, I have lived in a house without mirrors because I couldn't stand, I couldn't accept myself. The mirror was an enemy. Now, the mirror cannot be your enemy, the mirror has to be your friend, otherwise you are badly off. So instead of seeing the mirror as a symbol of vanity—no danger there—I saw the mirror as a symbol of acceptance. So that when I hold the mirror to you, when the critics and the interviewers and the film-makers come and they ask me inappropriate questions, I take my mirror and I hold it up to them and I say don't project on me. You see this mirror here? It is not out of vanity—it is a deforming mirror. It doesn't reflect me, it reflects somebody else. It reflects a kind of monstrous image of myself. So I can play with that." (Excerpt from edited transcript of interviews with the artist from the 1993 documentary film directed by Nigel Finch for Arena Films, London, and broadcast by BBC2. Quote cited in Bernadac, Marie-Laure and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Editors. "Destruction of the Father/Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews, 1923-1997." London: Violette, 1998, p. 260-261.)

While discussing "Cell (Eyes and Mirrors)" from 1989-1993, Bourgeois remarked how "reality changes with each new angle. Mirrors can be seen as a vanity, but that is not at all their meaning. The act of looking into a mirror is really about having the courage it takes to look at yourself and really face yourself." (Quote cited in Kotik, Charlotta, Terrie Sultan, and Christian Leigh. "Louise Bourgeois: The Locus of Memory Works 1982-1993." New York: The Brooklyn Museum and Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 1994, p. 49.)

"The mirror means that you have to come to an agreement with your own reflection. You have to love what you see. Concave and convex mirrors make it possible to play with and accept deformations. On a less metaphorical level, when I began building the 'Cells,' I wanted to create my own architecture, and not depend on the museum space, not have to adapt my scale to it. I wanted to constitute a real space which you could enter and walk around in. I don't like art to depend on handsome spaces, where works are merely placed. I didn't want that closed world. When I showed the 'Cells' for the first time, they worked like a labyrinth, from one 'Cell' to the other. I also choose the scale of the works that are presented inside." (Quote cited in Bernadac, Marie-Laure, Louise Neri, and Paulo Herkenhoff. "Louise Bourgeois: Recent Works." Bordeaux: capcMusée d'art contemporain; London: Serpentine Gallery, 1998, p. 38.)
Curatorial Remarks:
Two publicity items were made with images of this composition to promote the Biennial: a poster and a postage stamp.
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
This Work in Other Collections:
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

Mirror for Red Room


NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Louise Bourgeois. Mirror for Red Room. 1994
NOT IN MoMA'S COLLECTION Mirror for Red Room
Watercolor and ink on paper


Published Louise Bourgeois. Mirror for Red Room. 1996
Only state