Changes from version 1: composition transferred to new plate, in engraving; shading removed from upper right composition and from main structure; lower border of main structure removed; contour of sun lightened. Changes from version 2, state II, in engraving: second horizontal line added to top of main structure; numerous lines reinforced.
Bourgeois mentioned that in her life there had been several important rivers: in France, the Seine, the Creuse, and the Bièvre, and in New York, the Hudson. "Each had a different character, but all could be unpredictable and dangerous. This would constitute the bad mother character." She remarked that the Seine had flooded Paris in 1911 and that she frequently heard tales of its "misbehavior and chaos." The Bièvre, whose waters were used for the family tapestry business, was unpredictable because of several hand-cranked écluses (locks) upstream. "Each day began with the questions: Is there water in the river? How high is the river?"
The Creuse flowed through Aubusson where, as a child, she had stayed with relatives during World War I. "It was clear and direct from the mountains. It was jumpy, but not really so dangerous."
The Hudson regularly overflowed its banks in the nineteenth century and filled cellars of houses in Chelsea, where Bourgeois lived from the 1960s until her death. She described the stone and earthen floor of her cellar, which was a precaution against flooding. This print depicts the Hudson and "its revenge" during a storm. "The river was always feared, but here the hot sun is coming out, it covers everything... things are getting better. The anxious state is over." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 105.)
In Wye and Smith, "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois," 1994, p. 105, the alternate title "Structures," was included. It is found on a verso inscription on one of the impressions. This inscription has been found on several impressions of various 1940s compositions, and is no longer considered an alternate title.
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.
There is 1 known photocopy of version 1, state VII, which is not illustrated. It is signed "Louise Bourgeois / 1947" and includes the inscription "copper burin."
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