Louise Nevelson (1899-1987) was a prominent American sculptor and artist known for her distinctive wooden assemblages. Born in Kiev, Nevelson later immigrated with her family to Rockland, Maine, where she began her artistic journey. Throughout her life, Nevelson would study at prestigious institutions and make significant connections with other artists and influencers in the art world.
Nevelson's artistic education began in high school, where she was first introduced to art and music. She would later study at the Art Students League in New York (1922, 1924, 1929, 1932), the Theatre Arts Institute in Brooklyn (1927), and Schule für Moderne Kunst in Munich, Germany (1931). Notable mentors included Kenneth Hayes Miller, Hans Hoffman, George Grosz, Hilla Rebay, Frederick Kiesler, and Princess Matchabelli.
As an established artist in the 1930s, Nevelson participated in various exhibitions, including ones at the Society of Independent Artists (1934), Brooklyn Museum (1935), American Artists' Congress (1936), Federal Art Gallery (1938), and MoMA (1941). She was also part of the WPA, teaching mural painting and contributing to the New York art scene.
Nevelson's social circle included influential figures such as Frederick Kiesler, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Marjorie Eaton, Louis Eilshemius, Max Weber, Karl Nierendorf, Ralph Rosenborg, and Dorothy Miller, among many others. She became acquainted with the Surrealists, including Mondrian, Breton, Ernst, and Duchamp, through her connections with Kiesler and Peggy Guggenheim. Her sculpture “Columns” was included in the Exhibition by 31 Women. While mocked by the New York Times, the piece became a signature of her work.
Nevelson married Charles Nevelson in New York City, but the couple would later divorce in 1941. They had one child together, Myron Irving Nevelson. Louise also had a long-term relationship with Ralph Rosenborg.
Louise Nevelson's artwork continues to be celebrated for its innovative use of materials and unique assemblages. Her work can be found in the Archives of American Art, and more information is available through the Louise Nevelson Foundation. Nevelson died of lung cancer on April 17, 1987, in New York City.
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