Art Forward: Persistence: The Art of Louise Nevelson

The following article is written bthere Natasha F. Khan, Rahr-Western Arts Museum Collection assistant.

“Most artists create out of desperation. The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it is a painful and difficult search on the inside. –Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) has been a Ukrainian-American sculptor. the Rahr-The Art Museum of the West has a piece from our permanent collection by her, Composition, which was created in 1967. This piece is currently on display in the Center Gallery Mansion. Composition is a piece of Artists and writers protest the war in Vietnam. With 15 other artists, she created a wallet of 1966-1967 to show and encourage protest against the war. Unlike his sculptures, this piece was a print Screen. Beyond sculpture, Nevelson also drew, painted and engraved.

“Composition” by Louise Nevelson, Silkscreen, 1967, 1974.012.028, Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Dorsky

the Artists and writers demonstrate against the war In Vietnam portfolio was curated by Jack Sonenberg, a New York-based artist. It was created as a fundraiser for Artists and Writers Protest, Inc. Poets and artists donated their work while publishers and printers donated their time and materials. A large number of the artists who participated had served in World War II and had seen the atrocities of war and wanted to promote peace. Artists and Writers Protest, Inc. was an extension of the Greenwich Village Peace Center and the War Resisters’ League which were all created by a group of poets and artists. In January 1967, the members of the bands released a whole page ad in the New York Times urging everyone to “end your silence” on the war. Actors, dancers and musicians also criss-crossed the city on flatbed trucks to perform awork on the theme of anti-war. Other pieces from the museum’s collection portfolio include: The skin by Irving petlin, Untitled by Ad Reinhart, Untitled by George Sugarman To kill For Peace by Carol Summers Untitled by Paul burlin, tempered by Allen D’Arcangelo, Untitled by Mark Di Soveroand red number by Charles Hinman.

Louise’s family immigrated to Rockland, Maine in 1905 from what is now kyiv, Ukraine. They immigrated because of the abuses inflicted by the Tsarist Russians on the Jewish community where she was born. Louise was one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century, but was not recognized as such until she was 60 years old. Much of his early career focused on his struggle for recognition in the male-dominated field of sculpture. His dramatic and large sculptures paved the way for discussion in the feminist art movement of the 1970s by breaking the taboo that only male artwork could be large scale. Many of his pieces are assemblages, monumental, monochrome pieces, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. She is aAlso known for her “theatrical appearance”, wearing heavy mascara, mink eyelashes, wearing furs, wearing extravagant jewelry she made herself, and often wearing black.

Louise Nevelson, photo by Richard Avedon

“Women at that time were supposed to look pretty and throwing little handkerchiefs everywhere…well, I couldn’t play that part. –Louise Nevelson

She moved to New York in her twenties to study singing, acting, painting, and drawing; attending the Art Students League in 1929-1930. After traveling to Munich, Germany she studied with Hans Hofmann, an abstract expressionist painter. After returning to new York she worked with Diego Rivera, a muralist, who influenced her first solo exhibition in 1941.

Louise’s subject came from her feelings as an uprooted childod, clashing cultures, the divinity of nature and female biography. In many of her pieces, she used wooden objects she found in piles of urban debris to create stories and recall the shapes of the city, nature and celestial bodies, while elevating the abandoned pieces of city life. These small pieces, viewed holistically, were often monumental in size and were referred to as “found in”. While she enjoyed working with wooden pieces, she moved on to steel, aluminum, plexiglass and other materials to create small pieces.permanent pieces for the exterior. Louise’s work focused on three colors: black, white and gold, but especially black. “Black means totality, it means contains everything…if I talk about it every day for the rest of my life, I won’t finish what it really means.” – Louise Nevelson

In the 1950s, as Nevelson was gaining recognition for his work, his style was to use open-faced boxes that were stacked to create freestanding walls. Inside the boxes, she displayed collections of precisely blended abstract-shaped objectschair legs, pieces of balustrades and other found objects. Everything would be painted in one color. Once she started creating pieces for the outdoors, she also used outdoor lighting to her advantage. Follow the link below for an example of one of its massive parts:

Some of his most famous pieces include: Sky Cathedral 1958, Night Tree 1971, Sky Landscape 1988, Full Moon 1980, Night Sail 1985, Untitled 1970 and many more. Louise Nevelson is one of many artists, especially female artists, to prove that it is never too late to achieve and pursue your dreams.

This video by art historian Deborah A Goldberg Ph.D of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, sheds additional light on Louise Nevelson and her amazing and unique work.

Think outside the box: Louise Nevelson at Kykuit

Watch this fascinating video of Louise Nevelson herself from the Met.

Nevelson underway, 1977

“Innever feel the age… If you have a creative job, you have neither the age nor the time. –Louise Nevelson

Photo © Dan Budnik
Louise Nevelson, Grand Central Gallery, New York – 1958 with CATHEDRAL I