Louise Bourgeois THE STRETCH, 2006

Louise Bourgeois
Etching on paper
150.8 x 90.2 cm
Collection Tate, London, Gift of The Easton Foundation and Osiris
Photo: Ben Shiff, © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by DACS

Though she is most widely recognised for her ambitious sculptures, Louise Bourgeois also produced a large body of works on paper throughout her lifetime. This four-room display brings together a selection of her prints, drawings and books.

Drawing and printmaking were important aspects of Bourgeois’s practice. She first took up lithography – making prints with a combination of greasy and oil-resistant media – at the Art Students League in New York in 1938. In the mid-1940s she practised intaglio techniques – where the image is incised into the printing plate – at master printmaker Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17. She also prepared etching plates at home where she had a small intaglio press.

Having abandoned the practice for many years to concentrate on three-dimensional work, in the 1990s Bourgeois returned to printmaking, collaborating with a number of publishers and printers and often revisiting the notes and drawings she had produced decades earlier. The works in this room show how Bourgeois reworked ideas from earlier in her career, using drawings and parables to create books of engravings or to explore autobiographical scenes. 

Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) was born in Paris. She lived and worked in New York.

Curated by Ann Coxon