"This is a self-portrait as a helpless, defenseless woman. She has no arms... she is like the harmless women in sculpture. The protecting hand has been cut off. Maybe woman are just poor creatures... there is always the fear of being inadequate... of not being able to take care of oneself. It is a permanent feeling. There is the need to defend oneself... then she would be afraid for the children. I always felt that I could not defend myself because I could not understand what motivates people... I still feel that way." In reference to the game of marbles (being played by the hand at bottom right, most easily seen in state II variants), Bourgeois said: "There is always someone to trick her... someone always wins. This is the desperate art of self-defense.... But even if someone cut her, she would not lose her dignity... she would still stand there in full self-assurance. She tries to put herself back together through her beauty... through her hair. You can land on your feet if you are beautiful... see the breasts, hair, high heels. If you can please men and not be guilty about it... you have it made... that's it." About state III Bourgeois pointed out: "Another little child is there, and another is coming down from above. She can put herself together and take care of her children. She has full control over that little universe." About the act of cutting, Bourgeois said: "If you cut—either a pattern for a dress or by using a saw—you must be in complete control... it is a need to be self-sufficient. I am interested in the cutting and fitting of clothes, but this need could not be met by cutting clothes. The studio is full of saws... to use them, you must be in total control." She added: "Cutting can also be to punish yourself. I feel people always cut me to size." (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 184.)
In Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois," 1994, this composition was catalogued with the title "Dismemberment ANATOMY," based on the artist's inscription seen on the first tracing study in the Evolving Composition Diagram below. For the 1994 edition published by Peter Blum Edition, the title was shortened to "Dismemberment" and the cataloguing for the prints has been changed to match.
The Louise Bourgeois Studio has designated all tracing studies as "Dismemberment ANATOMY." Although it is known that the tracing studies all date to 1990, their chronological order cannot be determined.
The related drawing mentioned on p. 184 of Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois," 1994, cannot be identifed by the Louise Bourgeois Studio.
The paper type could not be documented because this work is not in MoMA's Collection and could not be examined in person.
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