This Week in History

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First solo show for sculptor Louise Nevelson

September 22, 1941
Louise and Neith Nevelson
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Louise Nevelson and Neith Nevelson. This photo is in the public domain.

Louise Nevelson, one of the most important American sculptors of the twentieth century, was born on September 23, 1899, in Kiev, Russia. Nevelson is perhaps best known for her monumental box-shaped sculptures made out of fragments of wood, which she often found discarded on neighborhood streets. Today, her work can be found in modern and contemporary art museums all across the world. In 2000, in recognition of Nevelson's success, the U.S. government issued special Louise Nevelson commemorative stamps, each highlighting one of the monochromatic sculptures for which she became so well known. (See This Week in History for April 6, 2000.)

Nevelson's original medium was drawing, but it was when she turned to sculpture that she found her true artistic identity. In these first sculptures, she began by nailing together pieces of wood and painting them in uniform black tones. Nevelson later added white and gold coloring to her constructions. In 1935, her work was first shown in a museum, as part of the Brooklyn Museum's exhibit, Young Sculptors, and on September 22, 1941, she had her first solo show at the prestigious Nierendorf Gallery. Since that first show, her work has been displayed in numerous other solo and group shows and exhibitions, including Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959 and at 1962's Venice Biennale. Nevelson died in 1988.

From May through September 2007, The Jewish Museum in New York City presented "The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend," the first major museum exhibit of Nevelson's work to be shown in a generation.

To learn more about Louise Nevelson, visit her Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: This Week in History for April 6, 2000, Louise Nevelson stamps issued by U.S. Postal Service; Jewish Women Artists.

Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 988-991; Laurie Lisle, Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life (New York, 1990); www.usps.gov; jwa.org/discover/infocus/artists; www.thejewishmuseum.org/site/pages/content/exhibitions/special/nevelson/nevelson_onlinefeature.html.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - First solo show for sculptor Louise Nevelson." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/22/1941/louise-nevelson>.