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The Art Story Homepage Artists Louise Nevelson
Louise Nevelson Photo

Louise Nevelson

American Sculptor

Movement: Feminist Art

Born: September 23, 1899 - Kiev, Russian Empire

Died: April 17, 1988 - New York, New York

Louise Nevelson Timeline

"Some of us come on earth seeing - some of us come on earth seeing color."

Louise Nevelson Signature

Summary of Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson emerged in the art world amidst the dominance of the Abstract Expressionist movement. In her most iconic works, she utilized wooden objects that she gathered from urban debris piles to create her monumental installations - a process clearly influenced by the precedent of Marcel Duchamp's found object sculptures and readymades. Nevelson carefully arranged the objects in order to historicize the debris within the new, narrative context of her wall sculptures. The stories embodied within her works resulted from her cumulative experiences - as a Jewish child relocated to America from Russia, as an artist training in New York City and Germany, and as a hard-working, successful woman. Her innovative sculptural environments and success within the male-dominated realm of the New York gallery system inspired many younger artists, primarily those involved in installation art and the Feminist art movements.

Key Ideas

Although Nevelson's artistic subject matter included her personal feelings about an uprooted childhood, clashing cultures, and nature's divinity, the common thread of feminine biography dominated her output.
Nevelson purposefully selected wooden objects for their evocative potential to call to mind the forms of the city, nature, and the celestial bodies. While the individual pieces had an intimate scale, they became monumental when viewed holistically within the combined environment of the assemblage.
Although Nevelson found her fame creating wooden structures, in the 1960s and 1970s she explored industrial materials like plexiglass, aluminum, and steel. These new materials allowed her to expand the scale and complexity of her works, while also moving the sculptures out of galleries and museums and into public spaces.
Nevelson's dramatic sculptures paved the way for the dialogues of the Feminist art movement of the 1970s by breaking the taboo that only men's artwork could be large-scale. Her works initiated an era in which women's life history became suitable subject matter for monumental artistic representation.
Louise Nevelson Photo

Louise Nevelson was born Leah Berliawsky in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, Russia (now Ukraine). In 1905, her family immigrated to Rockland, Maine, due to the terrible abuse inflicted by the Tsarist Russians on the Jewish community that she grew up in. Nevelson later recalled knowing that she would be an artist from the age of nine, having been drawn to the field after observing a plaster cast of a statue of Joan of Arc at the Rockland Public Library. She dreamed of escaping to New York to study art while she was still a high school student, and took a job as a stenographer while she continued her studies. Through her job, she met Bernard and Charles Nevelson. Louise married Charles in 1920, and the couple moved to New York City soon after.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Louise Nevelson
Interactive chart with Louise Nevelson's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Hans HofmannHans Hofmann
Diego RiveraDiego Rivera
Max ErnstMax Ernst
André MassonAndré Masson
Alexander CalderAlexander Calder

Personal Contacts

Linda NochlinLinda Nochlin
David SmithDavid Smith
Mark RothkoMark Rothko
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Eduardo PaolozziEduardo Paolozzi

Movements

CubismCubism
DadaDada
SurrealismSurrealism
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Louise Nevelson
Louise Nevelson
Years Worked: 1940s - 1980s
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Mark di SuveroMark di Suvero
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Lee BontecouLee Bontecou

Personal Contacts

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
MinimalismMinimalism
Feminist ArtFeminist Art
Installation ArtInstallation Art

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 01 Jul 2013. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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