|LOUISE NEVELSON: ENVIRONMENTS
Sky Cathedral: Southern Mountain (1959)
The gallery is dimly lit, with only a few filtered spotlights illuminating the space. As we enter, mysterious, shadowy
forms emerge from the darkness. They tower over us, like great beasts from a mythological forest, or stand broad
and austere like the remains of an ancient structure. Open boxes filled with shapes of all kinds line the walls,
repositories of some forgotten treasure. Black moons hang from the ceiling, and forms rise from the floor, hovering
above mirror-surfaced bases that remind us of black pools. Narrow, dark paths -- like secret passageways -- lead
us forward, and we have the pleasurable feeling of being enclosed in our own dark and private world. We have, in
fact, discovered the world of Louise Nevelson.
No photograph can possibly convey the feeling created by entering one of Nevelson's environments, as she called
her grouped sculptural assemblages -- described by one critic as "bizarre, humorous, and at the same time,
resplendent". "I create places, not sculptures", she once said, and indeed, visiting a Nevelson exhibit is like
stepping into another universe. Her creations are monumental and often evoke a sense of mystery. It is surprising,
then, to realize that these powerful works are actually composed of discarded pieces of wood that Nevelson
scavenged from the busy streets, alleys and abandoned houses of New York City.
Louise Nevelson was an individual with a presence as commanding as her sculptures. She was only seven years
old when she made her decision to become an artist -- and fifty-eight when the art world finally accepted her vision.
She chose to compete in a field of art that was traditionally dominated by men, but she was fully prepared to
sacrifice everything -- marriage, family, financial security, and all the comforts of an ordinary life -- to succeed. By
the end of her long life, she was known as one of America's greatest sculptors. In this GalleryTime, we discover
the unique world Nevelson created.
SkyCathedral: Southern Mountain