Wood work: Louise Nevelson’s monochrome sculptures fill Pace London

London’s Pace Gallery launches a retrospective of prominent sculptor Louise Nevelson
London’s Pace Gallery launches a retrospective of prominent sculptor Louise Nevelson
(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

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.

During the mid-1950s she produced her first batch of black wood sculptures, which the Whitney Museum decided to acquire

During the mid-1950s she produced her first batch of black wood sculptures, which the Whitney Museum decided to acquire, leading to her big break

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

Nevelson’s works established her reputation for sculptural bravado

Despite the unconventional materials used in her art, Nevelson’s works established her reputation for sculptural bravado

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

Nevelson shared with abstract expressionist painters an interest in creating large works that play with line, flatness and scale

Although primarily a sculptor, Nevelson shared with abstract expressionist painters an interest in creating large works that play with line, flatness and scale

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, Nevelson was interested in the sublime and spiritual transcendence

Like her contemporaries Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, Nevelson was interested in the sublime and spiritual transcendence

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

Outside of her influence on feminist art, her sculpture also heavily influenced the development of installation art

Outside of her influence on feminist art, her sculpture also heavily influenced the development of installation art of the late 1960s and 1970s

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

Nevelson’s work is fundamental to the history of feminist art

Nevelson’s work is fundamental to the history of feminist art, as it challenged the dominant stereotype of the macho, male sculptor

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

Untitled, c. late 1970s, wood painted black.

Untitled, c. late 1970s, wood painted black. Courtesy of Pace Gallery

(Image credit: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London)

INFORMATION

Louise Nevelson will be on view until 16 July. For more information visit Pace Gallery London’s website (opens in new tab)

Photography: Courtesy of Pace Gallery London

ADDRESS

6 Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ET

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