composition: 6 1/8 x 8" (15.5 x 20.3 cm); sheet: 9 x 11 15/16" (22.8 x 30.3 cm)
"The letter" lower right margin, blue ink, artist's hand; "1944" lower right margin, pencil, artist's hand. Verso: "lino / man / reading / 58" right middle sheet, pencil, artist's hand.
The alternate title "The Letter" derives from this impression's inscriptions. The alternate title, "63 Park Avenue," derives from an inscription on an impression of version 2, only state, not in MoMA's Collection and not included in the Evolving Composition Diagram below.
Proof before the editioning of version 2, only state.
In referring to her early prints of people and interiors, Bourgeois said: “I love portraits. I never used a camera. This was my way of recording my life.” In nearly a dozen drawings of the early 1940s, and also in paintings and in prints, Bourgeois showed a man leaning over a table. She identified him as her husband and recalled that his work involved constant reading and writing. "That was the way my life was then; I was waiting for a letter or I was watching Robert write or read."
When Bourgeois arrived in New York City in October 1938, she moved into her husband Robert Goldwater's apartment at 63 Park Avenue. She lived there until September 1939, and then moved to 333 East 41st Street, which served as the couple's home and the artist's studio. Years later, she remembered the layout of the apartment at 63 Park Avenue, with the table set up by a window. Bourgeois also recognized a special lamp they owned then, "by a designer of the Bauhaus period." In a later version of the print, the lamp changes to a vase of flowers and an empty chair is added, facing the man. Bourgeois said: "Someone is waiting." (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 48.)
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