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LOUISE BOURGEOIS: COMPLETE BOOKS & PRINTS

Louise Bourgeois: Complete Books & Prints
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Cat. No. 534/III (reprint)

Vase of Tears, plate 2 of 9, from the portfolio, Quarantania

State/Variant:
State III of III
Date:
1946, reprinted 1990
Portfolio:
Quarantania (View All)
Themes:
Faces & Portraits, Figures, Objects
Techniques:
Drypoint, Engraving, Etching
Description:
Soft ground etching, drypoint, and engraving
Support:
Smooth, wove Arches paper
Dimensions:
plate: 5 1/2 x 3 7/16" (13.9 x 8.8 cm); sheet: 18 5/8 x 12 15/16" (47 x 33 cm)
Signature:
"Louise Bourgeois" lower right margin, pencil.
Publisher:
Galerie Lelong, Paris
Printer:
Piero Crommelynck, Paris
Edition:
50; plus 10 A.P (numbered I-X)
Impression:
"EA III/X" lower left margin, pencil, unknown hand.
"EA III/X" lower center colophon, pencil, unknown hand.
Edition Information:
There are 4 known variant impressions of state III from c. 1945, before the reprinting and editioning of this state in 1990.
State Changes and Additions:
Changes from state II, in drypoint: figure’s left eye further delineated and tear drops added.
Changes from state II, in engraving: composition reinforced overall.
Background:
Portfolio:
Since Galerie Lelong was exhibiting Bourgeois's sculpture, Jean Frémon, a gallery director, proposed undertaking a print project with her. It was decided to reprint plates executed earlier and still in Bourgeois's possession, because this work was unknown to the public. In 1990, after the plates had been stored for more than forty years, they were newly printed by Piero Crommelynck, and published for this portfolio. Only "Quarantania" (9), titled "Bosom Lady" in the 1940s, was reworked in 1990 by the artist.

The 1990 reprints differ in appearance from the 1940s impressions, due to corrosion of the plates and accidental scratching over time. Also, professional printing with uniform inking and wiping creates a darker plate tone. The prints were gathered in a portfolio to represent the work from the 1940s, with the title "Quarantania," deriving from the French "quarante," meaning "forty."

In preparing this project, proofs were also pulled from other old plates in the artist's possession. However, the poor condition of those plates made it impossible to achieve acceptable impressions (see "Youth," 1941-1944; "Laurel Easton," 1944; "Dame," 1948; and "The Burner," 1948). Proofs were also pulled from a 1970s and a 1980s plate. These were editioned and published as "Spirales," c. 1974, and "Femme Maison," 1984. Bourgeois chose a cover resembling that of "He Disappeared into Complete Silence," 1947 because she saw "Quarantania" as a continuation of that work.
Artist’s Remarks:
In an interview for the 1994 catalogue, "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois," Bourgeois called this a kind of self-portrait: "self-deprecating humor about a person who complains." She discussed the state of being "ridden with fears... some healthy and some neurotic. Here is someone who is a fool, someone who is collecting and saving her own tears."

Bourgeois remembered as the origin of this print her feelings when her mother died in 1932 and her father's sarcasm about those feelings. Her mother had been her best friend. "Do not wallow in your tears; do not pretend," her father said. "It was so cruel," Bourgeois said. "He made me into a ridiculous clown. He made me feel that my tears were false tears.... Sarcasm can be a form of child abuse." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 66.)
Installation Remarks:
The 9 compositions that make up this portfolio can be exhibited together, in any order, or individually.
Curatorial Remarks:
The colophon for the “Quarantania” portfolio states that the plates were engraved by Bourgeois at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 workshop in 1947. However, dates for the compositions vary and the fact that all were engraved and printed at Hayter’s workshop could not be confirmed. At this time, Bourgeois also worked on prints at home with a small press.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 26
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
259.1992.2
This Work in Other Collections:
Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Paris
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE
Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland
Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Impression no. 17/50)

Vase of Tears, plate 2 of 9, from the portfolio, Quarantania
1946; reprinted and published in 1990

Matrix

Louise Bourgeois. Untitled (Copper Plate for Vase of Tears). c. 1945
c. 1945

States

Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears. c. 1946
State I of III
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears. c. 1946
State II of III
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears. c. 1946
State III of III, variant
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears. c. 1946
State III of III, variant
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears. c. 1946
State III of III, variant
c. 1946
Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears. c. 1946
State III of III, variant
c. 1946
Published Louise Bourgeois. Vase of Tears, plate 2 of 9, from the portfolio, Quarantania. 1946, reprinted 1990
State III of III
1946, reprinted 1990

Portfolio
1990