Louise Nevelson is one of the most important sculptors of the twentieth century.  Known primarily for large scale, monochromatic painted constructions of wood and found objects, Nevelson is challenging to classify. The energy and scale of her works align her with abstract expressionism but their monochromatic tone and her intentional use of specific materials are typical of many minimalist sculptors. 


Born Leah Berliawsky in Russia, Nevelson grew up in Rockland, Maine. She married immediately following high school and the couple moved to New York where Nevelson enrolled in classes at the Art Student's League. After divorcing her husband in 1931, she traveled to Munich to study with renowned abstract painter Hans Hoffman. She returned to New York with Hoffman and shortly thereafter met Diego Rivera who employed her as an assistant for a series of murals he did for the New Workers' School in New York in 1933.


Reclining Figure: Open Pose was done just after Nevelson completed studies with Chaim Gross at the Education Alliance Art School in New York and during the time she was working for the Works Project Administration (WPA), who employed her on and off between 1936 and 1939.  This work may have been included in her first solo exhibition at Nierendorf Gallery in New York in 1941.  She did not work again in terracotta until 1950 when she did a series of works for the Sculpture Center in New York after seeing Pre-Columbian art in Mexico and Guatemala. In 1944 her first abstract wood assemblages are presented at Nierendorf Gallery.


While sculpture was always Nevelson's focus she continuously experimented with other means of expression.  Her initial foray into prints was in 1953 when she did a series of black and white etchings.  The work in the JLW Collection, Homage to Edith Sitwell, was one of a series of screen prints on mylar that Nevelson did in the late 1960s. Nevelson dedicated the portfolio to the memory of British poet Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) whose work inspired her. The images in the portfolio combined a number of different techniques. First, a photograph of one of her sculptures was transferred to a silk screen. The serigraph was then printed, cut apart and recombined. 


The same year these print works were executed Nevelson had her first retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and museums in Israel and London acquired her work.  Today most major museums throughout the world own pieces by Nevelson and monumental sculptures can be found in public places in many urban centers.


For additional information about Nevelson's life and art visit: LouiseNevelsonFoundation.org. or pacewildenstein.com.


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Louise Nevelson (1899 - 1988) Russia / United States

LOUISE NEVELSON

Facade in Homage to Edith Sitwell

1976, mixed media-plexiglass/photography

23” x 17 1/2”

Louise Nevelson

Reclining Figure: Open Pose

 1937, sculpture, unique terrcotta

12” x 13 1/4” x 11”