3 known impressions of version 1, state VI, outside the edition
Proof before the editioning of version 1, state VI, and version 2, only state.
The additional known impression of version 1, state VI, outside the edition, is not in MoMA's Collection. It is not illustrated, due to its similarity to the published impression.
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 red, plate 2 printed in blue. Changes from version 1, state V: plate 2 added.
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.
In the early 1990s, Bourgeois worked with the French printer Christian Guérin of Gravure, New York. Bourgeois admired his four huge presses and also felt a personal rapport with him as a printer. Guérin helped the artist develop plates for several important projects at that time.
Bourgeois developed this composition with Guérin before the edition of version 1 was printed at Harlan & Weaver, New York.
The paper type and sheet size could not be documented because this work is not in MoMA's Collection and could not be examined in person. The plate dimensions are from the impression in MoMA's Collection.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 112
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; Yale University Art Gallery
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