Louise Bourgeois, Beautiful Night, 2004. Nine-color Lithograph on music paper, 20 3/4 x 27 11/16 inches (52.7 x 70.4 cm). Gift of Nancy B. Tieken. © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York
Working in sculpture, drawing, and printmaking, Louise Bourgeois—one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated artists—has explored themes such as trauma, sexuality, and everyday life. Beautiful Night is a nine-color lithograph depicting a boldly colored landscape of pink, orange, and red hills. Printed on music paper, the print is a buoyant and hopeful image, especially for an artist best known for delving into the darker aspects of life. This print retains Bourgeois’s graphic style. Here we see her signature mark-making, as in the mountains formed by her spiraling, obsessive lines and repeated strokes. The landscape is dotted with two leafless trees and a full moon. Bourgeois said of this work: “The trees symbolize a couple on their first date. It’s a beautiful moonlit night that they will remember forever.” This quote relates to what Bourgeois has referred to as the toi et moi (you and me), a theme in her work that speaks to the intricacies of human interaction or relationships. As curator Deborah Wye points out in her catalogue essay for the Museum of Modern Art’s 1994 exhibition The Prints of Louise Bourgeois, it is a topic that the artist repeatedly returns to in her prints.
This print was made as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMart program, a fundraising initiative that offers works donated by visual artists. The addition of Beautiful Night to the ICA/Boston collection expands the museum’s Bourgeois holdings to include a work on paper, increasing the ICA’s ability to showcase the many dimensions of this eminent artist.