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Louise Nevelson

Artwork © 2016 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Artwork © 2016 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

About Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson (b. 1899, Kiev; d. 1988, New York), a leading sculptor of the twentieth century, pioneered site-specific and installation art. She is recognized for her sculptures of unified box-like structures that are comprised of discarded furniture and other wood elements found in the area surrounding her studio, and painted in monochromatic black, white, or gold. She also experimented with bronze, terracotta, and Plexiglas, as well as collage, works on paper, and the realm of public art. With her compositions, Nevelson explored the relational possibilities of sculpture, summing up the objectification of the external world into a personal landscape. Although her practice is situated in lineage with Cubism and Constructivism, her sense of space and interest in the transcendence of the object reveal an affinity with Abstract Expressionism.

Featured in over 400 group exhibitions, Nevelson represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1962 and was also included in the 1976 edition of the Biennale. In addition to Sixteen Americans, other prominent group exhibitions include The Art of Assemblage, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1961); the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1958, 1961, 1964, 1970); and Documenta, Kassel (1964, 1968).

Press Release

  • Louise Nevelson at Pace Palo Alto

    Palo Alto, CA — Pace Palo Alto is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Louise Nevelson, highlighting the artist’s practice from the mid 1950s until her death in 1988. The exhibition will be on view from September 29 through December 11, 2016 at Pace Palo Alto located at 229 Hamilton Avenue in California. An iconic and vital figure in post-war New York, Louise Nevelson was widely regarded for her groundbreaking sculptural environments as well as her collages, both of which will be in this large survey show.

    Nevelson created her first assemblages in the mid-1950s and quickly made an impact in the New York art scene with her pioneering approach to sculpture. Inspired by Cubism, Nevelson took scraps of wood and other materials found on the street near her studio and assembled them into free-standing and wall-mounted sculpture that she would paint a solid color—most famously, black or white. Nevelson’s sculptures range from small assemblages to free-standing columns and monumental wall-based works consisting of multiple small compartments. Although the physical form of the scraps remains unchanged in her work, Nevelson subsumes them in an entire system, creating a unified whole from disparate parts. She insisted on the psychological and expressive virtue of her work, which was illustrative of a highly personal cosmology rooted in light and shadow.

    The artist’s early collages, produced at a smaller size than most of her sculptures, provide important insight into her thinking and working process and the importance of wood in her work. Mostly unpainted, the collages reveal Nevelson’s use of raw materials, demonstrating an organizational logic that continues in her larger work as well. In addition to Nevelson’s iconic black monochrome sculptures, the exhibition will also include steel maquettes Nevelson produced for public sculptures, now exhibited in Chicago and at Harvard University. These works, intended to be viewed in the round, exemplify the heightened architectural quality of her work in the later decades of her career.


    Louise Nevelson (b. 1899 Kiev; d. 1988, New York) emigrated from czarist Russia as a child and grew up in Rockland, Maine. As an adult, she returned to Europe where she studied with Hans Hofman. Upon her return to the United States, she served as Diego Rivera’s assistant and later as an art instructor in the Works Progress Administration. In 1941, she had her first solo exhibition, and in 1946, was included for the first time in the Whitney Annual exhibition, which she would participate in eleven more times. Nevelson exhibited her first all-black sculptures in the mid- 1950s. Although she worked in white and gold and later with painted steel, her developments in the 1950s sustained her work throughout the rest of her life.

    She has been the subject of one-artist exhibitions at numerous institutions including The Jewish Museum, New York (1965, 2007); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1967, 1970, 1980, 1987, 1998); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1973); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1973); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1986); Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (1994); Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris (1997); Fondazione Roma Museo (2013). She represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1962, and her work was again included in the Biennale in 1976. Nevelson’s art has also been featured in prominent group exhibitions including Sixteen Americans, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1959–60); The Art of Assemblage, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1961); and Documenta (1964, 1968).

    Many of the most prominent museums and public collections in the world hold work by Nevelson. Additionally, the artist’s work is permanently installed at several museums, universities, sculpture centers and civic centers in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco; New York is home to several of Nevelson’s sculptures including a dedicated plaza in Lower Manhattan.

    This is Nevelson’s twenty-sixth exhibition at Pace since joining the gallery in 1963.

    In October 2016, Thames & Hudson will release the newly published Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadow, by Laurie Wilson.

    About Pace Gallery:Pace is a leading contemporary art gallery representing many of the most significant international artists and estates of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Founded by Arne Glimcher in Boston in 1960 and led by Marc Glimcher, Pace has been a constant, vital force in the art world and has introduced many renowned artists’ work to the public for the first time. Pace has mounted more than 800 exhibitions, including scholarly shows that have subsequently traveled to museums, and published over 400 exhibition catalogues. Today, Pace has nine locations worldwide: three galleries in New York; one in London; one in Palo Alto, California; one in Beijing; and spaces in Hong Kong, Paris and Menlo Park, California. In 2016, the gallery launched Pace Art + Technology, a new program dedicated to showcasing interdisciplinary art groups, collectives and studios whose works explore the confluence of art and technology. Pace opened its permanent location in downtown Palo Alto, California in 2016.


The gallery will be closed for Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful holiday weekend. New York Prabhavathi Meppayil (537 West 24th Street) will close early today, November 23 at 2pm and Rothko: Dark Palette (510 West 25th Street) will close at 4pm. The galleries will reopen on Friday, November 24 for normal gallery weekend hours.  Menlo Park  The gallery will close early today, November 23 at 3pm and reopen on Tuesday, November 29.  Palo Alto  The gallery will close early today, November 23

Join us at 300 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA on Wednesday September 28, 10am as Dr. Laurie Wilson discusses her new book Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadow. Her involvement with Nevelson dates back to the 1970s when she spent fifteen hours interviewing the artist for her doctoral dissertation, Louise Nevelson: Iconography and Sources (1978), which was subsequently published in the series Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts.  There will be an open Q & A to follow with the author, Dr.


Roberta Smith praises Louise Nevelson: Collage and Assemblage as an opportunity to revisit the artist’s achievements: “Here she is less the high priestess of black than a restless, searching artist, improvising with an intuitive flair similar to Robert Rauschenberg’s.” Read more from the New York Times here.