Artist: Louise Bourgeois
Image: 36' x 28'
Framed: 40' x 31'
This piece was commissioned by the Paris Review. Since 1964 The Paris Review has commissioned a series of prints and posters by major contemporary artists. Contributing artists have included Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Louise Bourgeois, Ed Ruscha, and William Bailey. Each print is published in an edition of sixty to two hundred, most of them signed and numbered by the artist. All have been made especially and exclusively for The Paris Review.
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Aquatint and drypoint, with white acrylic stencil additions
Smooth, wove Somerset paper
plate: 31 13/16 x 23 5/8' (80.8 x 60 cm); sheet: 36 13/16 x 28 1/16' (93.5 x 71.2 cm)
'Louise Bourgeois. 1994' lower right margin, pencil.
35; plus 10 A.P., 4 P.P., and an edition of 65 in black and white.
'AP 10/10' lower left margin, pencil, unknown hand.
There are 2 known variant color impressions of state VIII, outside the color edition.
State VIII was also editioned in black and white, and did not include plate 4.
State Changes and Additions:
The progression of this composition, as seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below, involved 4 plates. The published color edition included plates 1, 3, and 4, while the published black and white edition included only plates 1 and 3.
Plate 1: overall composition, except for dotted lines; printed in red or black.
Plate 2: curving, dotted lines; printed in red or black.
Plate 3: (replaces plate 2) curving, dotted lines reconfigured with larger, more widely spaced dots; printed in red or black.
Plate 4: tonal background shading; printed in blue.
State Changes and Additions:
Plate 4 printed over plate 1, printed over plate 3.
Changes from state VII, in aquatint: further shading added to globular shape in center right composition.
For The Paris Review, Paris
Founded in Paris in 1953, The Paris Review is now based in New York and showcases emerging writers and artists, introduces unpublished poetry and fiction by established writers, and presents interviews. Works of art are regularly featured, and sometimes whole portfolios or series by individual artists are reproduced. Since 1965, the magazine has published editioned prints to raise money. In 1992 the magazine asked Bourgeois to create such a benefit print, which also appeared on the cover of the Spring 1994 issue, No. 130.
'I like the Rorschach effect here... it is like the optical illusion... others see things in it. It can be a toi, not a moi.' Bourgeois noted that this print was based on a red ink and watercolor drawing done several months earlier, at the same time she was being constantly interviewed, photographed, and filmed in preparation for the Venice Biennale, in which she represented the United States. For this print, she turned the image upside down. 'This is the pomegranate... it is the movement of twisting and squeezing out the juice of the pomegranate. All those interviewers squeezed me to exhaustion... so this was a remark on them. This can only happen to an over-achiever... an over-achiever wants to please... wants to please the teacher... she can't resist... she doesn't know how to say no. It is exhausting. When you are in the grip of Barbara Walters, you cannot fight back!' [Barbara Walters is only meant figuratively here.]
'I received constant encouragement and flattery from my family and was never criticized. That formed a pattern for my whole life. I am an over-achiever. That is different from ambition because it is a desire to please you, one person... not to please the world. But the over-achiever can allow herself to be manipulated by an interviewer. There is exhaustion, but then there is release if you see that your effort was not in vain... that you were understood.' (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. 'The Prints of Louise Bourgeois.' New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 229.)
Inscribed on the verso of the source drawing: 'The Camel through the eye of the needle.'
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 147
MoMA Credit Line:
Gift of the artist
MoMA Accession Number: