The works of Louise Nevelson (b. 1899, Kiev; d. 1988, New York) radically explore space through sculpture.
Building on the legacies of Cubism, Constructivism, and Abstract Expressionism, the artist’s famed wooden constructions translate found objects into personal yet abstract portals. After working in painting, clay, and carved wood, Nevelson embarked upon her signature monochromatic assemblages made of found wood in the 1950s painted black, white, and even gold to harmonize the divergent surfaces of her materials. A pioneering female sculptor, Nevelson is among the most significant American sculptors of the twentieth century.
Based on Untitled (1976–78), an important work in ICA Miami’s permanent collection, this presentation features a selection of Nevelson’s assemblages from the 1970s. The sculptures exhibited here, both wall-mounted and freestanding, are made of scraps of wood and furniture—chair legs, a baseball bat, balusters, and a headboard—found on the streets of New York that create intimate portraits of Nevelson’s day-to-day urban context. Nestled into box-like structures scaled to the human body, these works highlight the artist’s use of sculpture as a reflection of her immediate social and geographical environment. “You see, when a car goes over a piece of wood and it comes out with all sort of things—dents. Those are my drawings,” she said. “What’s the use in drawing them when it’s much more direct doing it the way I do? It’s immediate, it’s true, and it’s there. . . . New York, for instance, is my mirror. . . . When you encompass the whole city it becomes a great twentieth-century work of art.”
Nevelson’s work has been widely exhibited internationally with solo shows presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2018); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2018); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2015); and Fondazione Roma Museo, Rome (2013), among others. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2018); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); Royal Academy of Art, London (2017); Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2016); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2015). The artist’s work is held in renowned museum collections internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Tate, London, among many others.
This exhibition is organized by ICA Miami and curated by Stephanie Seidel, Associate Curator.