Changes from state I, in aquatint: shadow and shading on floor added. Additions in pencil: curved top of clock added, dots added to clock's face, hands and feet further delineated, all anticipating state III.
Bourgeois was often inspired by the subjects of early drawings when creating works at much later dates. This 1994 portfolio is an example of a project based primarily on drawings from the 1940s and referring to her life in New York at that time. The exceptions are as follows: plate 1, based on a drawing from 1986 that references childbirth; plates 4 and 9, based on drawings from the 1940s but depicting memories of her childhood years in France; plate 11, most probably based on a drawing from the 1940s of a European hotel desk.
Excerpted from the interview "Paulo Herkenhoff in conversation with Louise Bourgeois," transcribed and edited by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve. Cited in Storr, Robert, Paulo Herkenhoff, and Allan Schwartzman. "Louise Bourgeois." London; New York: Phaidon Press, 2004, p. 11-12.
Herkenhoff: Is there a job which you think suits your character? Bourgeois: One of my jobs is to wind the clocks in the house. Herkenhoff: You always pay attention to small details and from there you draw major conclusions, so I would like simply to ask, why is winding the clocks important to you? Bourgeois: Because to rewind is to make a spiral. And the action demonstrates that even though time is unlimited, there is a limit to how much you can put on it. As you are tightening the spiral you must take care. If you tighten too much you risk breaking it. It is the same with sewing. Sewing without a knot at the end of the thread is not sewing. In this sense the spiral is a metaphor of consistency. I am consistent in my spiral. For me there is no break. There is never an interruption in the spiral because I can not stand interruptions.
An additional related drawing for this work was not available for reproduction. It can, however, be viewed on microfilm at the Archives of American Art, reel 90, frame 147.
Of the 14 plates in "Autobiographical Series," Bourgeois titled plates 6 and 12. The untitled plates have been assigned descriptive titles for cataloguing purposes.
According to the artist's assistant Jerry Gorovoy, this composition is based on a memory Bourgeois had of growing up in France, when it was her chore to wind the family's grandfather clock.
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number:
This Work in Other Collections:
Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland Museu da Gravura Cidade de Curitiba, Brazil Tate Modern, London
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