Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait explores the prints and books of the celebrated sculptor. This little-known body of work is vast in scope—numbering some 1,200 individual compositions—and highly significant within her larger practice. These works encompass the same themes and motifs that occupied Bourgeois throughout her career, and they are explored here within the context of related sculptures, drawings and early paintings. This investigation sheds light on Bourgeois’ creative process overall, most vividly through the evolving print states and variants that led to her final compositions; seeing these sequences unfold is akin to looking over the artist’s shoulder as she worked.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this catalog presents more than 270 prints and books, organized thematically, and includes an essay that traces Bourgeois’ involvement with these mediums within the broader developments of her life and career. It also emphasizes the collaborative relationships that were so fundamental to these endeavors. Included are interviews with Bourgeois’ longtime assistant, a printer she worked with side-by-side at her home/studio on 20th Street in New York and the publisher who, in the last decade of her life, encouraged her to experiment with innovative prints that broke the traditional boundaries of the medium. The volume is rounded out with a chronology and bibliography that focus on prints and illustrated books while also providing general background on Bourgeois’ life and art.
Born in Paris in 1911, Louise Bourgeois was raised by parents who ran a tapestry restoration business. She met Robert Goldwater, an American art historian, in Paris and they married and moved to New York in 1938. Early on, Bourgeois focused on painting and printmaking, turning to sculpture only in the later 1940s. In 1982, at 70 years old, Bourgeois finally took center stage with a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. She died in New York in 2010, at the age of 98.