Louise Nevelson’s first major retrospective in America

The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend opens at the de Young  Louise Nevelson (American, 1899–1988) Mirror Shadow VIIMuseum in San Fransico on October 27, 2007. Although Louise Nevelson’s (1899–1988) work has been celebrated in numerous retrospectives, The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend is the first comprehensive presentation of her work that includes her works on paper, which are intrinsic to her sculptural output. This exhibition, organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, features more than 70 objects, including both sculpture and works on paper. Throughout the exhibition, Nevelson’s works in both media will be juxtaposed to highlight the artist’s inclination for various media, enabling viewers to trace the common themes that recur in her half-century of production. The works on view are drawn from private and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Walker Art Center, and The Jewish Museum.

This exhibit is the first major retrospective in America in more than two decades to examine the work of one of the towering figures of postwar American art. Nevelson was known for her monumental sculptures and her practice of constructing them from found wood. Her autobiographical works symbolically address issues of marriage, motherhood, death, Jewish culture, memory and (although she resisted the label) feminism.

Nevelson was born in the Ukraine and immigrated to the United States with her family six years later. Her life encompassed most of the 20th century, giving her exposure to Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and installation art. Although linked to all of these movements, Nevelson formed a unique visual language that earned her recognition as one of America’s most distinguished artists. Her work continues to inform contemporary sculpture nearly 20 years after her death.

Her groundbreaking technique involved assembling cast-off wood pieces and transforming them with coats of monochromatic black, white, and (more rarely) gold spray paint. Nevelson’s work started with tabletop scale objects, but quickly grew into human-scale and room-sized works. Her later, monumental public works stood their ground with the buildings that surrounded them.

The Jewish Museum and Yale University Press have co-published a catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. It is hailed as the most extensive study of Nevelson to be published in 25 years and includes essays by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, the curator of the exhibition, as well as by noted scholars such as Arthur C. Danto, Harriet F. Senie, and Michael Stanislawski.

The exhibit will be on display until January 13, 2008

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