Soft ground etching and drypoint, with brown ink and pencil additions
Smooth, wove paper
plate: 4 15/16 x 7 1/2" (12.5 x 19 cm); sheet: 7 15/16 x 11 9/16" (20 x 29.4 cm)
The alternate titles are derived from the artist's inscriptions on known impressions of this composition. The alternate title, "Le Liseur," derives from an inscription on an impression of state VI that is not in MoMA's Collection and is not included in the Evolving Composition Diagram below.
Although there are 18 known impressions of the various states of "Youth," 3 have the following impression numbers: 5/7, 5/7, and 1/10.
State Changes and Additions:
Change from state III, in drypoint: vertical lines on torso of center figure added. Change from state III, by burnishing: hair on right figure eliminated. Additions in ink: legs on right figure articulated, anticipating state V.
Though Bourgeois most often depicted daily activities during the 1940s, she occasionally introduced people from her earlier life. Here, Bourgeois said, are her father and her brother. "These are people I like... This is a family that is locked together, but totally isolated. They try to communicate, but they get nowhere." About the female figure she said: "She is desperate here because she listens, but perceives that she's not hearing. There is a difference between listening and hearing. It is the same today: not to hear and not to be heard. I am so preoccupied that I cannot hear, in spite of an enormous effort." About the female figure in the print, she added: "Maybe she is withdrawn because she doesn't have a child; she must be preoccupied with that." (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 56.)
Additional known drawings relate to this composition but were not available for reproduction. They can be viewed on microfilm at the Archives of American Art, reel 90, frames 5 and 11.
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