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Cat. No. 549.2


Version 2 of 2, only state
Abstraction, Animals & Insects, Spirals
Engraving, with selective wiping, and chine collé
Smooth, wove Arches paper
plate: 16 13/16 x 10 7/8" (42.7 x 27.7 cm); sheet: 26 x 19 5/8" (66 x 49.9 cm)
"Louise Bourgeois. 1990." lower right margin, pencil.
Business Committee for the Arts, Inc., New York
Gravure, New York
"25/27" lower left margin, pencil, artist's hand.
Edition Information:
There is 1 known impression of version 2, only state, outside the edition.
State Changes and Additions:
Changes from version 1: composition reconfigured on new plate, in engraving; maggot lengthened and tapered on bottom end.
Benefit Work:
For the Business Committee for the Arts, Inc., New York
Version 2 of this composition was published as a benefit for the Business Committee for the Arts, Inc. The BCA, now part of Americans for the Arts, was founded in 1967 by a group of prominent business people to develop alliances between businesses and the arts. It was initially based in New York, but is now a New York/Washington based organization. At its inception, the Committee established an award, given annually to companies that have developed outstanding alliances. From 1976 to 2008, the BCA commissioned American artists to create limited edition sculptures, prints and multiples to be distributed to award winners at the annual ceremonies. The Committee commissioned Bourgeois to create a print for the annual ceremony in 1990.
Artist’s Remarks:
"This is a maggot... it is a larva that will turn into a mouche [fly]. In France, when I was a child, we were invaded by flies from March to November. Part of the work day was to fight the flies. Flies, tics, mosquitos, gnats... they represent constant trouble.

"This concerns the treatment of your demons... of your enemies. You turn your relationship with your enemy into a work of art. How are you going to do it? You have to enter into a dialogue with your enemies. You have to figure them out... you have to understand them to get rid of them... those nasty memories." (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 189.)

On personal stationary dated August 6, 1990, Bourgeois noted: " 'Progression' is a visual rendering of the thought: / tomorrow will be better. / Louise Bourgeois."

When discussing the related white-on-black 1989 pastel and gouache on paper (illustrated below), Bourgeois commented, "These are maggots. It looks like a very negative subject. In fact, it is not a negative subject at all. In fact, if I were religious, I would say that it is the theme of the resurrection. So it means that however hard things are, there is still hope if you believe in maggots. Something has decomposed, and it is from that decomposition that hope comes again." (Quote cited in Bourgeois, Louise and Lawrence Rinder. "Louise Bourgeois Drawings and Observations." Berkeley: University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive University of California, Berkeley; Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1995, p. 162.)
Curatorial Remarks:
Bourgeois admired the printing facilities of the Gravure workshop and also felt a personal rapport with the owner and master printer, Christian Guérin. Guérin helped the artist develop plates for several important projects in the early 1990s.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 113.2
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
This Work in Other Collections:
The British Museum, London
Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


First Version

Louise Bourgeois. Progression. 1990
Version 1 of 2, state I of II
Louise Bourgeois. Progression. 1990
Version 1 of 2, state II of II
Louise Bourgeois. Progression. 1990
Version 1 of 2, state II of II, variant

Second Version

Louise Bourgeois. Progression. 1990
Version 2 of 2, only state, variant
Published Louise Bourgeois. Progression. 1990
Version 2 of 2, only state