In the flamboyant heyday that was post-war New York, a 60-year-old Russian expat with fake eyelashes and a passion for headscarves was the artist of the moment.

Photographed by Cecil Beaton and Robert Mapplethorpe, Louise Nevelson is now considered to be one of the most iconic and vital figures in the art world, regarded for her groundbreaking sculptural environments and her contribution to installation art, defying categorisation. Paving the way for the development of feminist art in the 1970s, Nevelson’s work challenged the taboo that only men’s work could be large-scale.

For the 26th time since 1963, and her Pace Gallery London debut, Nevelson's work will take over Pace Gallery with a show surveying her work from the mid-1950s until her death in 1988. Salvaging small pieces of scrap wood from old buildings and then nailing and gluing them together, Nevelson created sculptures which ranged from small assemblages to free-standing columns and monumental wall-based works, then painting them in a solid colour – most famously black or white. The artist purposefully selected wooden objects for their evocative potential, however after having risen to fame for her wooden sculptures, she also explored materials such as plexiglass, aluminium and steel.

In addition to the presentation of a collection of significant monochrome sculptures, the exhibition will also include steel maquettes the artist produced for public spaces, exhibited in Chicago and at Harvard University. Thames & Hudson will also be releasing a book about the artist next autumn called Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadow by Laurie Wilson.