Louise Nevelson (American, 1899–1988) was a Ukrainian-born sculptor and printmaker, who grew up in Rockland, Maine, after arriving in the United States at a young age. In 1920, Nevelson moved with her husband to New York, where she worked as a performing artist and studied sculpture at the Art Students League. She separated from her husband in 1931 and traveled to Europe to study, but returned to America as the political situation in Germany worsened. Like many other artists in the 1930s, she was employed by the Works Progress Administration, first assisting Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886–1957) on his mural Portrait of America and later teaching at the Educational Alliance School of Art. In 1941, Nevelson was awarded her first one-woman show at the Nierendorf Gallery, New York; the following year, she began to create assemblages using found objects, leading to the style of her mature sculptures. Her large-scale environment Moon Garden Plus One was on display during her 1958 show at the Grand Central Moderns Gallery and brought her wide-spread recognition. In the late 1950s and 1960s, she created monochromatic assemblages and environments influenced by Abstract Expressionism from wood, terracotta, and clear perspex. Her later sculptures, which were often intended for outdoor environments, took a more geometric form and utilized industrial materials, such as Cor-Ten steel, which allowed for structural innovations beyond the capability of regular steel. In the last decade of her life, Nevelson received numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Museum’s Great Artist Series Award in 1986.

Timeline

1899
Born in Kiev, Ukraine
1905
Moved Rockland, USA
1929–1930
Studied visual and performing arts, including dramatics at the Art Students League
1931
Attended Hans Hofmann’s school in Munich, Germany
1932
Returned to New York and assisted Diego Rivera on murals for the WPA Federal Art Project
1937
Joined the WPA as a teacher for the Educational Alliance School of Art
1947
Studied etching with Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17 in New York
1949–1950
Worked in marble and terra-cotta and executed her totemic Game Figures
1957–1959
Became a president of the Artist’s Equity New York chapter
1959
Received a grand Prize for work in the Art USA exhibition at the New York Coliseum
1966
Became vice-president of the International Association of Artists
Received Honorary Degree from Western College for Women in Oxford, USA
1969
Received a MacDowell Colony Medal in Peterborough, USA
1973
Received a honorary degree from Smith College in Northampton, USA and Columbia University in New York, USA
1985
Received a National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan
1988
Died in New York, USA
2000
Was the subject of a set of Louise Nevelson commemorative stamps issued by the U.S Postal Service

Exhibitions

2013
Midnight Party, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA
Louise Nevelson: Black, Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, USA
2012
Louise Nevelson, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, USA
Selections From The Estate: 1954-1987, Timothy Yarger Fine Art, Beverly Hills, USA
2011
Louise Nevelson, Alan Avery Art Company, Atlanta, USA
Rediscoveries 1, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, USA
Louise Nevelson: Collages, Pace Prints, New York, USA
Louise Nevelson 1899 – 1988, The Architect of Shadow, Artiscope, Brussels, Belgium
2010
Louise Nevelson, Galerie Thomas, Munich, Germany (solo)
Advancing Abstraction in Modern Sculpture, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, USA
Louise Nevelson, Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, USA
2009
Louise Nevelson: Dawns and Dusks, Louise Blouin Foundation, London, England (solo)
Louise Nevelson: Dawns and Dusks, Pace Gallery, New York, USA
Louise Nevelson: Collages, Galleria Il Ponte, Florence, Italy (solo)
The Pull of Experiment: Postwar American Printmaking, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA
2008
Jesuvian Process, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, USA
Doppio Songo Dell' Arte (Art's Double Dream), Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis, USA
2007
De-Natured: Works from the Anderson Collection, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, USA
Light Time and Three Dimensions, Pace Gallery, New York, USA
The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson, The Jewish Museum, New York, USA; travelled to de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2006
Louise Nevelson: Small Works, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, USA (solo)
Louise Nevelson: The Architecture of the Light, Nohra Haime Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
2005
Louise Nevelson: Ceramics and Sculpture, Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, USA (solo)
Collecting for the Cause: Activist Art in the 1960s and '70s, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, USA
Continuum: 130th Anniversary of the Art Students League of New York, ACA Galleries, New York, USA
2004
Picasso to Pop: A Growing Contemporary Collection, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, USA
Louise Nevelson, Hackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2003
Louise Nevelson: Selections from the Farnsworth Art Museum, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, USA
Going Modern at the Allen: American Painting and Sculpture 1950-1980, The Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, USA
Imagine: Selections from the permanent collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, USA
2002
True Grit: Seven Female Visionaries Before Feminism, Boise Art Museum, Boise, USA
Louise Nevelson: Structures Evolving, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, USA
2001
Louise Nevelson, Galerie Marwan Hoss, Paris, France (solo)
Points of Departure II: Connecting with Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
1999
Drawings, Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, USA
Louise Nevelson, Sculpture and Collages, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, USA
1998
Louise Nevelson: Sculpture and Drawings from the 1940s, Washburn Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
The 60s in the Seventies, Ubu Gallery, New York, USA
1997
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, USA (solo)
Assemblage: More Than Meets The Eye, Choate House Gallery, Pace University, Pleasantville, USA
1994
Louise Nevelson, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, Italy (solo)
The Box: From Duchamp to Horn, Ubu Gallery, New York, USA
1991
10 Sculptors of the New York School, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
1986
Louise Nevelson, Michel Soskine Inc., New York, USA (solo)
1983
Nuclear Weapons Freeze Benefit Exhibition, Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
1967
Louise Nevelson,The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, USA (solo)
Sculpture: A Generation of Innovation, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Public Collections

The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield,CT
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture, Grenoble, France
Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Tate Gallery, London, U.K
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven,CT
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Literature

2009
The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend(edited by Brooke Kamin Rapaport). Yale University Press: New Haven
1990
Lisie, Laurie. Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life. Simon & Schuster/ Summit Books: New York, 1990
1981
Wilson, Laurie. Louise Nevelson: Iconography and Sources. New York: Garland, 1981
1976
Nevelson, Louise. Dawns + Dusks: Louise Nevelson (taped conversations with Diana MacKown). New York: Scribner, 1976
1972
Glimcher, Arnold B. Louise Nevelson. New York: Praeger, 1972