Alongside her sculptures, textile pieces and works on paper, Bourgeois was a prolific and highly skilled printmaker who experimented with different techniques throughout her career. She enjoyed the tactile and physical aspect of printmaking which for her involved ‘the whole history of the creative process’.
Bourgeois first began experimenting with lithography in the 1930s while still living in Paris. After her emigration to New York in 1938, she continued to make prints while studying at the Art Students League and with her own small press which she had bought to be able to continue working at home. She also intermittently worked in the Atelier 17, an experimental workshop run by master printmaker Stanley William Hayter who collaborated with the likes of Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Giacometti and Chagall. Bourgeois adopted Hayter’s innovative technique of viscosity printing, which allowed her to print multiple colours at once, and to develop her signature colour palette of reds, pinks and blues.
While from the 1950s to 90s Bourgeois focussed 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.
The exhibition at Marlborough coincides with the comprehensive retrospective of Bourgeois’ textile works currently on view at the Hayward Gallery.