Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson (09/23/1899-04/17/1988) was born Louise Berliowsky in Russia.  When she was five years old she moved to Maine.  Nevelson credits the move to America as one of the influences that led to her becoming an artist.  The incredible new sights, sounds and colors of this country amazed her.  When she and her family arrived in America, they suffered extreme poverty for many years.  As her family slowly moved toward respectability in an ethnically prejudiced community in New England, Nevelson remembers her mother spending lavish amounts of money to buy her and her sisters the finest clothes. She met Bernard Nevelson while taking a piano lesson when she was 18; his brother Charles proposed to her and married her in 1920.  Nevelson resumed voice lessons after her first child was born in New York, but did not receive any major singing work.  She met two young artists, Theresa Bernstein and William Meyerowitz, and began taking weekly drawing lessons in their studio in 1920. Nevelson and her husband moved to Mount Vernon, but Nevelson became depressed that her marriage was failing, so she packed her bags and moved with her son to Maine.  She enrolled in a painting class, and quickly discovered her talent as an artist.  Nevelson   returned to the United States in 1932 after studying in Munich, but soon left the country again.  Between 1932 and 1933, she was an assistant to Diego Rivera in Mexico City.  She and Ben Shahn helped Rivera to execute a mural for the New Workers' School.  Nevelson returned to New York after much soul searching, and moved back in with Charles, but soon left him.  They divorced in 1941. She soon gained recognition for her work;  several articles were published on her sculpture beginning in the 1930s. Unfortunately, few of her sculptures from the 1930s have survived. Nevelson gained fame in the 1950s with her intricate arrangements of found objects and carved wood, placed in boxes and painted in one color.  By 1958 Nevelson's signature style had emerged:  her sculptures were stacked in wall-like reliefs and painted black.  She made similar works painted white in 1959.  Nevelson also experimented with plexiglass, plastic, and steel in less compact arrangements.  She was termed an "environmental" sculptor; one who uses manufactured objects to form the overall whole of her sculptures.  Her sculptures became large and she often needed help lifting them due to increasing medical problems and deteriorating health. Nevelson was elected into the National Association of Women Artists in 1952. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Newark Museum in New Jersey.

Other works by: Louise Nevelson