Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of this Problem?
January 24 – March 11, 2023
Marlborough Graphics New York is pleased to present Louise Bourgeois: What is the Shape of this Problem? The exhibition includes prints created from 1989-2007 and highlights the artist’s lifelong themes of childhood, motherhood, familial identity, and human sexuality. Bourgeois says of printmaking, “the whole history of the creative process is there. In painting or in sculpture it would be gone”.
A French-American sculptor whose body of work in fabric, bronze and stone continues to influence subsequent generations of artists, Bourgeois was also a prolific printmaker throughout her storied career. An avid experimenter, she utilized a variety of printmaking techniques including drypoint, aquatint, embossing and lithography. The private mythologies of Louise Bourgeois, comprised of cryptic fascinations that are simultaneously dark and playful, became her own kind of visual public biography. Spiders as stand-ins for the matriarch and a precocious child within an artistic adult are among the evocative staples of her drawn and painted vocabulary.
Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 where she attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She moved to New York with her husband in 1938. While from the 1950s to 90s Bourgeois focused on creating sculpture and textile works, she briefly opened her own print shop and taught printmaking at the New York School of Visual Arts from 1974-77. Bourgeois eventually returned to printmaking in the 1990s which for the last twenty years of her life became a daily activity and an integral aspect of her practice, enabling the artist to revisit some of her earlier drawings and ideas. She died in 2010 at the age of 98.
“Louise prefers engraving by hand, without the use of acid. It is a very uncompromising way to make marks. There is no way back.” says Felix Harlan from Harlan & Weaver, Louise Bourgeois’ long-time intaglio printer who printed multiple works in the exhibition. Harlan worked on the plates with Bourgeois in her Chelsea home, pulling state proofs on the small press installed in her basement. After Bourgeois approved the BAT, the edition would be printed at the Harlan & Weaver studio.
Works by the artist can be found in numerous collections around the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Davos Collection, Zurich, Switzerland; Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Palazzo Forti, Verona, Italy; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and The Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO.