Medium and Support: Drypoint print and embroidery on cloth
Dimensions: 45.3 x 37.5 (cloth size) 30.2 x 25 (print size)
Accession No: WAG 2006.2
Ears is an unusual print by Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911), one of the most influential and innovative American female artists of the 20th century who has practised as a painter, sculptor and printmaker. Her work became well known to the British art-going public following her extraordinary sculpture of a a female spider, Maman, installed as the inaugural display at the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern in 2000.
Ears 2004 is one of Bourgeois' most recent and unusual prints. Through twelve minutely different images of her own ear, the work reveals one of the artist's most enduring preoccupations, her interest in the examination and expression of 'the self'. The ear itself is a symbol, representing her desire to understand others and her need not to be isolated.
The print uses an unusual combination of techniques and materials, unparalleled in the rest of her oeuvre and amongst other printmakers. Bourgeois has used drypoint printed onto cloth, with each ear containing a punched out hole, individually sewn like a buttonhole. The cloth itself is a piece from the artist's own weddding trousseau. The use of this cloth gives the work a fragile physical beauty and sculptural quality as well as an extraordinary emotional resonance.