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Nevelson, Louise
Louise Nevelson (1899-1988)
Birth Place Kiev, Ukraine
Death Place New York, New York
Born Sep. 23, 1899
Died Apr. 17, 1988
General Notes Louise Nevelson emigrated with her family from Kiev to Rockland, Maine, in 1905. Her father established a construction business and ran a lumberyard. After she married and moved to New York City, Nevelson studied painting, drawing, drama, and dance, taking classes at the Art Students League and with the painter Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) in New York and Munich. Her work in 1933 with the Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) on his murals at the New Workers' School in New York may have prompted her to work on a large scale. During the 1930s, she focused on relatively small-scale wood, terra-cotta, and clay sculptures. Her blocklike figures from this time reflect her interest in cubism and ancient Mesoamerican art. In 1937 the struggling artist found crucial employment with the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration. Louise Nevelson, one of this nation's unique and best-known sculptors, began showing her work regularly in the early 1940s at the Nierendorf Gallery in New York City. It was there in 1942 that she introduced works incorporating found objects, and two years later she exhibited her first abstract wood sculptures at the gallery. But after owner Karl Nierendorf's death in 1948, Nevelson's output waned dramatically. She would not resume her creative output until 1955, when she produced a series of black geometric assemblages from odd pieces of wood gathered near her Manhattan apartment. Over the next three years she was accorded three solo exhibitions at New York's Grand Central Modern Gallery, and in 1956 the Whitney Museum of American Art became the first major institution to acquire one of her works. Between 1958 and 1962 Nevelson showed her large-scale wall reliefs at the prestigious Martha Jackson Gallery in New York; they met with critical acclaim. The Whitney mounted a Nevelson retrospective in 1967, and in 1978 Boston University awarded her an honorary degree. By the time of her death in 1988, she had become an iconic figure in American art.
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