Saint Sébastienne, 1992
French, American, 1911
drypoint on wove paper
Printed by Harlan & Weaver Intaglio
120.5 x 94.3 cm; image: 98.7 x 78.3 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37139)
© Louise Bourgeois
Bourgeois frequently returned to the image of Sainte Sebastienne in two-dimensional form. Like many of her prints, this work originated as a drawing completed earlier in her career, evolving through several states before she arrived at the final print. The totemic female figure is peppered with schematic arrows, some indenting her wood-like flesh while others simply point to parts of her body, like an acupuncture diagram or a schema for a drastic cosmetic procedure. By redressing the Christian martyr St. Sebastian as a female, Bourgeois plays with the notion of pain and suffering, punning on the different types of anguish - both physical and emotional - that many women silently endure.